behind death at
brooks brown and rob merritt
What People Are Saying About
no easy answers
"Brown's discussion of Harris's Web pages, where he made a death threat against
Brown, and the police's feilure to act on them, makes for chilling reading....[R]eaders
interested in a close-up account ofthe tragedy will want to read this book."
— Publishers Weekly
"Brown's story is gripping and provocative... .Excellent choice fer outsider teens
wondering ifthere's a light at the end ofthe bullying tunnel."
" [The book] gives a perspective no one else could. . .It shows a side you cannot get
— ^Brian Rohrbough, £ither ofColun4)ine victimDaniel Rohrbough
no easy answers
the truth behind death at columbine
brooks brown and rob merritt
Lanicrn Boolu • New York
A DivUion of Booklight Inc.
One Union Square West, Suite 20 1
New York, NY 10003
© Brooks Brown and Rob Merritt, 2002
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval
system, or transmitted in any fcrm or by any means, electronic, mechanical,
photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the written pemrission of Lantern
Brooks Brown was involved in and has personal knowledge of many aspects of the
events described in this book. In some instances quotations ofconversations in this
text are his best recolleclions ol'conversations had by or with him, or overheard by
him, and may not be verbatim; in other instances quotes are reasonable
interpretations of what was said or likely to have been said, consistent with the
author's experience ofthe situation and people involved.
Rights lo the trademarks, product names, or any derivatives of such trademarks or
names are neither claimed, intended, nor inplied by the author or publisher of this
All efforts have been made to locate and obtain permission from the owners ofthe
photographic images used in this book.
Library ofCongress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
No easy answers : the truth behind death at Coluntine High School / by Brooks
Brown and Rob Merritt.
ISBN 1-59056-031-0 (alk. paper)
1. School shootings — Colorado — Littleton. 2. Teenagers — United States — Social
conditions — 20th century — Case studies. 3. Brown, Brooks. 4. Columbine High
School (Littleton, Colo.)— Students — Biography. I. Merritt, Rob, 1976- 11. Title.
LB3013.33.C6 B76 2002
Ackn o wle dgm e n ts
ROB MERRITT FOR UNDERTAKING SUCH A DIFFICULT TASK WITH ME and
helping me through it. Meagan Fishell for sticking by ne through all the shit I've
gone through. Michael Troutman, Trevor Dolac, Scott Parker, Brendt Scholle, Adam
Calhoun, Derek, Jaysen, Jaymz, Ninja, Injun, and Jamin for being the friends you are.
My parents. Randy and Judy, for instilling in me early on the ability to endure and
care, and for sticking by me when I am most lost. My brother, Aaron, for giving me
ways to have fiin over the last three years. My cousin Josh for giving me someone to
Michael Moore and his entire sta^ especially Rehya, for believing in me without
having to ask the standard questions. Anne Sullivan at Lantern Books for proving
the inportance ofnever giving up. Spike and Brad Xavier, Lou Dog, Bobby B, D-Loc,
Richter, Insane Clown Posse, Twizted, anybody killer, Taxman, Pak, and The Wind for
proving that people can make good music and not be sellouts.
Troy Manuello, Eric Kritzer, Jan Jankowski, Susan Caruthers, and the janitors of
Colunljine High School. You were all that kept me in that school, let alone taught me
how to enjoy learning and enjoy people.
And thanks to anyone I nissed. My Juggalos, femily, people who mean a lot to me,
everyone. I owe a lotta people for getting through the last few years. You should
know who you are.
BROOKS BROWN FOR IRLSIING ME ENOUGH TO BRING ME ON board for
such a personal project; Eddie Morris, Andy Paugh, and Jenny Welp for their critical
feedback on early drafts; Randy, Judy, and Aaron Brown for their assistance at every
step of the way; Brian Rohrbough and Richard Castaldo, not only for helping me
understand their losses, but for their refiisal to give up in the fece of therr^ Anne
Sullivan at Lantern Books, who chanpioned our project from the beginning; Sarah
Gallogly at Lantern for her invaluable guidance; and n^' parents, Richard and Linda
Merritt, for their love and encouragement.
Also, thanks to Pat Dunleavy, David Horton, Ron Smrha, Robert Geuder,
Michael J. Peitz, and John and Diane Rosteck for proving that when teachers make the
extra effi)rt to touch a student's life and inspire him, it can make all the diference.
Finally, special thanks go to Jamie Christenson, the most amazing fiiend and
inspiration I ever could have asked for. She loved this project and supported it with
everything she had, but she did not live to see its publication. I love her with all n^
heart. This book is for hen
Part One: Columbine
Chapter 1 : " get out ofhere"
Chapter 2: why?
Chapter 3 : normandy
Chapter 4: video gaines
Chapter 5 : freshmen at columbine
Chapter 6: troubles
Chapter?: broken glass
Chapters: the web pages
Chapter 9: suburban life
Chapter 10: friendship renewed
Chapter 1 1 : the calmbefore the storm
Part Two: Aftermath
Chapter 12: the nightmare begins
Chapter 13: rachel
Chapter 14: no answers
Chapter 15:1 stand accused
Chapter 16: the families
Chapter 1 7: the videotapes
Chapter 18: anniversary
Chapter 19: the truth comes out
Chapter 20: final hope
Chapter 2 1 : hollow victory
Chapter 22: little brother
Chapter 23: where do we go?
"get out of here"
THE LAST TIME I STOOD IN THIS SPOT, THE WORLD AS I KNEW IT WAS
about to be shattered.
I'm alone on a staircase outside Colunfoine High School in Littleton, Colorado.
Tlie spot is a quiet one, bordered by concrete recesses that merge into a sidewalk
leading up toward the math wing. I've stood here many tirres before; this place was
always secluded enough for rre to get in one last quick drag before an administrator
would yell at me to quit smoking on school grounds.
Today it's &r away fromthe pool ofmedia trucks gathered nearby in Clement Park,
and from the gymnasium where the big assenijly of students and teachers is taking
place. It's a good place fcrme to just stop and think.
It's also a good place to mourn.
I haven't stood here since April 20, 1999. 1 haven't stood here since exactly one
year ago this minute.
For the first two periods of April 20, it had been a typical day at Columbine, no
diffirent from any other in the past fcur years. Finished first hour, went outside, had a
cigarette. Went to second hour, where I worked as an assistant to Mrs. Caruthers, the
theatre teacher. She handed me some papers to help her review and grade. When the
period ended, I went out and had a cigarette.
Looking around during that smoke break, I realized what a beautifiil day it was,
especially for April, when in Colorado we're used to rain. The sun was out, the sky
was clear and blue, and tenperatures were finally warming up afier the past few
months of winter. I was wearing a white Tshirt and jeans; I hadn't even bothered
bringing a coat to school.
I finished m/ cigarette and headed for philosophy class. We had a test that day on
Chinese philosophy. I was never a great student at Colunt>ine, but I felt all right
about this particular test. Mr Kritzer was the kind of teacher who truly understood
the material he taught — and knew that allowing students to contribute their own
ideas, without being judgmental, is critical in the teaching of philosophy. His
approach irade me enjoy the class, which in turn made me work harder. I had a good
feeling about today.
That was when I noticed something odd. Eric wasn't there.
It didn't seemright. My friend Eric Harris skipped class all the time, but he knew
this wasn't just a quiz we were taking that morning. The test was going to be worth a
good third ofour final grade. To miss it was basically to write offthe rest oftheterm
I tried to shrug it off as his loss. Still, I was a little concerned. Eric was a good
student, and his parents drove him hard when it came to grades. I knew Fd have to
give himshit about it the next time I saw him
1 finished n^ test and brought it up to the front ofthe room The period ended, and
offl went to have another cigarette. Then 1 headed to fourth-hour creative writing.
Once again, no Eric. This time, no Dylan, either
Normally, this wouldn't have seemed that odd. Eric was best friends with Dylan
Klebold, and the two of them ditched creative writing all the time. However, they
usually had at least one of their other friends from this class with them, too. Today,
though, Becca Heins, Nate Dykeman, and I had all showed up for class. Apparently
none ofus had been invited along.
I don't really remember what Mrs. Kelly had us do that day. 1 was already
thinking about going home alter fourth period and missing my last class. 1 had stayed
up late on n^ conputer the night betbre, and I was tired. I already had n^ cigarettes in
hand by the time the bell rang to signify the end ofthe period.
I had no idea that this would be the last time I would ever attend a class at
Colunfcine High School. That it was the last time I'd ever take a philosophy test, or
write a paper for Mrs. Kelly, or grade papers fcr Mrs. Caruthers, or play dodgeball in
The world I knew was about to be altered forever.
As I took a drag on cigarette, I was a little surprised to see Eric suddenly pull
into the parking lot right in front of me. It seemed strange that he would skip two
classes, then suddenly show up back at school.
Even more bizarre, he was pulling into a spot other than his assigned space.
1 wanted to talk with him I still couldn't believe he'd skipped philosophy. I
walked right up to his car, just as he was getting out, and with a mix of concern and
friendly cruelty, I started cussing himout.
"What the hell's wrong with you, man?" I said. "You weren't in third hour
today. You missed the test!"
I didn't know how to read the look he gave me. It wasn't the " Oh, damn" look of
someone who had just realized what was about to happen to his grades, or the look of
annoyance that your friends give you when you rib them about a screw-up. This was
something very different.
He laughed at me, as if he couldn't believe I had even brought the subject up. " It
doesn't matter anymore," he said. He pulled a light blue gymbag out ofthe backseat
and set it down on the ground.
"Yeah, whatever," I muttered, taking another drag on rr^ cigarette. Hric was a
weird guy — cool, but not as good a friend as Dylan. But today he was acting a little
stranger than usual.
Eric stopped. He looked straight at me.
" Brooks, I like you now," he said. " Get out ofhere. Go home."
His tone was bizarre — intense, but almost chuckling. I'd never heard himtalk that
That's when I noticed Eric wasn't wearing his hat. A pretty small detail, I
suppose; he was wearing his usual attire of black pants and a white T-shirt, so
everything else seerred normal. But Eric always wore his hat. Always.
Eric didn't even hold n^ gaze after he spoke. He turned his back to me and started
pulling another duffil bag out ofhis back seat.
" Uh, okay, whatever," I said.
Eric didn't say anything else. He wasn't even looking at me anymore. My
presence didn't seemto mean anything to himnow.
I took another drag offn^ cigarette — and that's when 1 got hit by this uneasy
feeling. Didn't know where it came trom, but somehow, in the back ofrr^ mind, 1 knew
something wasn't right. The hat. Eric's demeanor. The test he'd skipped. I couldn't pin
down why alarms are going offin n^ head. But they were. Something was telling me
that I needed to walk away.
Eric was a very serious person. You didn't screw with him I knew that from last
year, when he'd posted messages on the Internet about how badly he wanted me dead.
We had made peace afterwards; I thought all of that was behind us now. But maybe
those memories were coming back to unsettle rre all over again.
Whatever the reason, somehow I knew that Eric was not one to be antagonized
any fiirther at this moment.
I didn't say anything else. I walked across the parking lot back down to Pierce
Street, still holding the same cigarette I had lit when I walked out of class. I tried to
just keep smoking like nothing had happened. Yet deep down, I knew that something
was wrong, and that it had to do with Eric.
Was he going to play a prank? Mess with the school's ventilation system? Shoot
paint balls? Set offa pipe bomb in the parking lot?
1 saw an image of Bart Sinpson flushing a lit firecracker down the toilet right
before Principal Skinner brings his mother in to use the fecilities. It had always made
me laugh in the past. For some reason it didn't now.
I finished the cigarette and tossed it. I tried to forget about Eric for a moment and
decide whether I was going to skip fifih hour or not.
Then I heard a loud crack in the distance.
I looked around. Funny, I thought, that almost sounded like a gunshot. I looked
to n^ left. On the other side of Pierce, there was a whole block of housing
construction going on. Had I just heard a nail gun? Maybe. The pounding of nails
will echo everywhere. You can't pinpoint where it came fi'omwhen it's that loud.
I heard a few more cracks. They sounded diffirent fi-om nails. Couldn't be sure.
Then 1 heard something much louder than what had come before.
That wasn't any goddamn nail.
In that instant, I knew something horrible was happening. P anic washed over me,
and without even thinking about it, I started moving. I didn't know what was going
on, but somehow I knew I had to get as fer away fromthere as possible.
I heard more loud cracks. Something that sounded like ejqjlosions. A bonfc. I
wasn't walking anymare. 1 was running on Pierce Street, wanting in that instant to
get as fer away fi"omColumbine as possible.
One block. Another Loud noises coming fi-om behind me, sounds 1 knew meant
I reached a little green generator next to the sidewalk and sat down for a moment. I
could just barely see the front edge ofColuniine, at the top ofthe hill in the distance,
and I could still hear the shots.
" All right — ^gotta figure out what I'mdoing — gotta figure out what I'mdoing — "
I had no idea what I was going to do.
I tried to calm n^^ self down. Maybe it's a prank, I thought. Maybe it's exactly what
I thought before. Maybe Eric tossed a couple ofpipe bombs, scared the teachers, and
now he's hiding behind a few cars in the parking lot, laughing his ass off
If it was a prank, and I ran to someone's house and started screaning that there
were bonis and ejqjlosions going off at Columbine, what would be the first thing
they'd do? Call the cops. If I was wrong, what would happen then? I'd get slapped
with a fine. Nailed. You get in trouble real bad for making felse reports in Littleton.
Besides, I thought, maybe I didn't hear anything. Maybe I'mjust losing it. Maybe
if I just get up and walk back, I'll see that nothing happened and everything's all
Jesus. I didn't know what the hell to think.
But I couldn't stay there on that generator, out in the open. I knew that.
I got up and kept moving away fi-omthe school. I was three blocks away from
Columbine when I reached a concrete bicycle underpass that goes right under Pierce
Street. I jumped down offthe sidewalk and disappeared into it.
I'd gone down here to smoke with friends in the past. I'd never done it to try to
My hands were shaking as I pulled out another cigarette. 1 had to clear rr^ mind.
I replayed everything from the past ten minutes. The explosions. The shotgun
blast. It had to be a shotgun blast. Had to be, had to be ... 1 thought back to rr^
conversation with Eric. Had I missed something? A detail, something sticking out of
his bag? Anything?
And then it hit me — the sick realization.
Son ofa bitch.
I suddenly remeirtoered all the articles I'd read about Jonesboro and Pearl and
Paducah, and K_ip Kinkel and Michael Carneal and Luke Woodham. I remembered
those tiiTEs when we'd laughed in speech class that Columbine was next. We'd said
that ifany school was ripe to get shot up, it was ours.
Now it was happening, and my friend was behind it.
Oh, man. No. No. Jesus, Eric, what the hell are you doing?
Christ, I thought. Get it together. Come on. What if I'm the only one who knows?
What if the cops don't have a name? I've got to find a phone. I have to get out of
I heard police cars driving overhead as I hurried back out from the underpass. I
looked out across the errpty lots, to where the closest house was, several hundred
Hien I heard it. I turned around just in time to see a massive barrage of police
cruisers, a dozen of them if not iiDre, thundering north on Pierce toward the school
with sirens wailing. Il'l needed any fiirther confirmation that this was real, I found it
when 1 saw halfthe police force ofJefeson County descending on Columbine.
I ran to the first house 1 saw and started hammering on the door Nothing. 1 ran for
the next one and did the same thing. I don't know ifl was yelling through the door or
not. It didn't seemto matter
As I ran to the next one, I saw a woman getting into her car with her daughter. She
looked like she was rushing.
" I need your phone!" I yelled to her. " Please let me use your phone!"
" No, no," she said, hurrying into her car. " I have to leave."
With that, she barreled out ofthere. I think I scared her.
As she left, 1 saw two other women outside the house. One of them was Mrs.
Taylor; I knew her daughter Anna, a very sweet girl who had been in several classes
with me over the years. Her mother recognized me — and saw the look on rr^ fece.
"What's wrong?" she asked.
"1 need to use your phone." 1 was breathing hard, sweating, scared out ofn:y
mind. She asked me why.
I said I didn't want to freak her out, but that I thought there had been a shooting
Mrs. Taylor stayed calm " Okay," she said. " You lie down. Lie on your back. I'll
go get the phone. You just try to relax for a second "
I sat down, burying n^' head in my lap. Then I lay back with my armover n"^ ^ce,
trying to regain rr^ conposure. 1 still didn't know for sure what was happening. I still
Mrs. 'laylor gave me the phone. 1 called rry dad at work.
" Have you heard anything on the news?" 1 said.
" No," he replied. " Why? Brooks, what's going on?"
" Well, first of all, I want you to know that I'm all right. I'm out of the school and
" Okay. . ."
" Dad, I think Eric's shooting up Columbine."
There was a pause on the other end. What? !"
" Dad. sorrething's going on," I continued. " I don't know what to do."
" I'll be there in ten minutes! Where do you want me to meet you?"
I looked down the street, trying to place own location.
" I'll n^et you by Steve's house on Upham Street. I'mright by there." Steve was
n^ drumteacher, so rr^ dad knew where he lived.
" Okay. Ten minutes, Brooks. Thanks."
My dad hung up and I handed the phone back to Mrs. Taylor. I thanked her, and
apologized ifl had panicked hen I knew her daughter was in choir right now.
That was when I realized. My brother 's still in there.
My little brother Aaron, two grades below me, was also a student at Coluni>ine.
He and Eric didn't get along. IfEric was still in the school, and he came across
brother ... I felt terror overwhelming me all over again.
1 started walking toward Steve's house. A lot ofcars were already driving by; the
first thing I did was look among them for people I knew.
First I saw Mr Johnson and Mr. Bath, two ofny teachers from Coluni>ine, and
waved them down. They pulled over and asked me why I wasn't in class. They were
I just blurted out what I thought: Eric Harris was involved in a shooting ofsome
kind. They both becane very quiet.
" You know, he's in my psychology class," Mr Johnson said after a beat.
Mr Bath asked ifl was okay. I told them yeah, and they said they would see me
later Then they drove off I kept walking, until n^' friend Ryan Schwayder drove up in
his Jeep Grand Cherokee.
" Hey, Brooks," he said. "What's going on? We tried to go back to school and
they've got the road blocked off"
I didn't answer him I just opened the door, threw n^ book bag into the back of
the Jeep and jumped in. Inside were two other Coluniine students, Matt Houck and
Ryan took one look at me and instantly became concerned. " What's wrong?"
I tried to ejq)lain, but I was talking too fest for them to understand. Ryan kept
asking ine to slow down. I took a couple of deep breaths, and asked Ryan to drive
closer to Columbine, so 1 could get a better look.
"Why? What's wrong?"
I took a moment. " There's a shooting at the school."
For two seconds, dead silence filled the Jeep.
Then Deanna's hands went to her fece, and she started crying. Ryan's entire body
just sank in his seat; I could literally see the energy escape him
" Oh, God," Matt said quietly.
I tried to ej^lain about seeing Eric, and what he had said to me. " Oh, man, I think
he had a duflfel bag with him," I said.
I asked Ryan ifl could use his phone to call 911. Almost like a zonfcie, he handed
it to me. I called the police and told them I had information about what was
Ihey seemed to have trouble transferring n^ call at first. I wound up getting
fcrwarded to the Arapahoe County office. As this was happening, all ofus looked up
to see nwltiple helicopters descending on our school.
The battery started dying on Ryan's phone. He let me clin4) over into the driver's
seat and plug the phone into the lighter adapter to get power, while he stood outside
with Deanna, quietly holding her.
Arapahoe County put me through to Detective Kirby Hodgkin, and I started
rattling offinformation. I told them about Eric skipping class that day, what he'd said
to me in the parking lot, what kind ofcar he drove, and what he was wearing.
" He looked like an Am^ cadet," I said.
I said Eric had just tumed eighteen a few weeks ago, and that he'd talked in class
about buying guns, saying he " couldn't wait to turn eighteen" so he could legally
purchase one. I mentioned that we'd had a felling-out several years befcre. I didn't
think to mention the Web pages.
While I was still on the phone with them, n^ dad pulled up next to us. "We're
getting the hell out ofhere right now!" he yelled.
1 didn't know what had my dad so spooked. He later told me that he'd heard a
report on the radio saying the shooters had already left the school on foot. My dad
was afraid that Eric was walking around in the same neighborhood as us. With guns.
I said, " Fine! Fine!" I didn't even take time to change places with Ryan. He and
Deanna jumped back in the car, and with me behind the wheel, we took offbehind n^
We headed back out to Pierce Street and floored it the rest of the way to our
house, not caring that we were probably pushing sixty, sixty-five miles per hour on
residential streets. I was still on the phone, so I e?q>lained the situation to the
detective at Arapahoe County. He took iny address and said that an oflScer would
come out later that day to interview me flirther.
My dad and I tore around the last few comers leading to our house. He pulled up
on the sidewalk, and 1 parked right behind him—just as n^ brother Aaron came
running out ofthe house to rreet us.
Thank God, I thought. I was so happy to see himsafe.
When n^ dad came to get me, he already knew Aaron was okay. Afler he'd talked
to me, Aaron had called to let himknow he had made it home. My dad knew I w^ the
only kid he still had to bring to safety.
Aaron told me that he and his friends had run like hell to get out ofthe school,
niadc it lo his car, and then come home. He didn't tell me how he'd been sitting in the
caleleria when it started, just a few tables away from a propane bomb that had
sorrehow feiled to detonate. Or how he'd run through the auditorium, being chased
by the gunmen, bullets flying over his head, hearing the girl behind him get hit and
scream, " I'mshot!" I would learn about that nuch later.
All we knew was that we were safe at home. Far away from the horror that was
still unfolding at Columbine High School.
" Brooks, I like you now. Get out ofhere. Go home."
Those wound up being Eric Harris's last words to mc.
Five minutes after I spoke to hirn, he was hurling pipe bonfcs at friends, firing
shotgun blasts at n^ brother, and mirdering innocent students — students whose
biggest worries before that moment had been nidtermtests and college applications.
Yet what I didn't know at the time was that Eric wasn't alone in his mission. His
best friend Dylan Klebold was with him, firing offbuUets right next to hiin, hunting
and killing — and laughing about it.
Dylan. One ofm}' closest friends since first grade.
Soon, Eric and Dylan would kill themselves in the library, denying any ofus the
chance to question them I'd never be able to sit down across from the guy i used to
throw snowballs at in elementary school and ask him why he had wanted to kill all
those people who had done himno wrong whatsoever.
The hell that Eric and Dylan would create at high school that day would go
on to haunt their femilies, the femilies of the victims, and parents and students
throughout our community and the world. It would destroy n^ life, as comments from
the sheriffwould lead to accusations that I was somehow involved in the plot.
Worst of all, it lefi me struggling with the knowledge that not only were
classmates dead, they had been murdered by one friend I'd known since childhood —
and another who had let me walk away only a few minutes beforehand. And I would
never be able to ask themwhy.
So today I'm standing at that same spot where I watched as the end ofmy world
came driving into Columbine's parking lot. I'm standing alone, smoking a cigarette,
the same way I did then. Thinking. Reflecting. Trying to m^e sense ofeverything.
Inside the school, our principal, Frank DeAngelis, is leading a collection of
students and staffin a massive spirit asseihbly, reading aloud the words ofPresident
Clinton, telling everyone that we're all going to move forward, that the hate in our
world " must turn to love."
At least, that's what I would read in the papers later. 1 didn't see it. I didn't hear it.
I wasn't interested — nor did I have much of an interest in the " closure stories" being
prepared by the pool of media nearby in Clement Park, ready to close the door on
Colunibine and declare the whole thing as the work of two sick, deranged kids who
represent nothing more than the work of the devil, or ofviolent video games, or just
aberrations in an otherwise perfectly civilized high school.
I knew how ludicrous that was. I knew that we were nowhere near closure on
Columbine. We still aren't. I knew Hric and Dylan lar better than these analysts who
were telling us about the harmful e&cts ofDoom I knew themfer better than Principal
DeAngelis, who behind his tears and speeches had no time for the kids like us, who
existed outside the normand were punished daily by ourpeers because ofit.
I knew that there were more Erics and Dylans out there, and I knew why their
disenchantment was growing. I could seethe void they were felling into — and I knew
that void was getting bigger
So I'mmourning the dead today, standing in this spot — this spot that never used
to be anything significant — for the first time in a year. But I'm not interested in
praying for a solution. I'minterested in finding one right now, in the real world.
This book is n^ first step.
FROM THE MOMENT I CHOSE TO BEGESI THIS PROJECT, I KNEW THERE
would be people criticizing me for it. Many people think that " Coluniine is done" —
that it's something not worth dredging up again, because we've heard enough about
what happened. " It's time to move on," they say.
The reason they say this is that the public has settled on what they think caused
Columbine: two sick, crazy boys who killed people because they were conpletely
different from the rest of us. " It's a tragic thing," they'll say, " but not son^thing that
requires any fiirther thought." There are some who still question the behavior of the
police that day — as well they should — ^but there aren't many who are still asking
questions about the killers thenBelves.
Except, ofcourse, for young people.
The people who are still in high school know what's going on. They know
there's something much, much bigger behind Columbine than what the rest of the
world has been led to believe. These lolks want to know who Eric and Dylan were.
They want to know why two kids who are just like the people they share the school
hallways with every day would turn around and do what they did.
Why? Because they see parallels with Coluniiine at their own schools every day.
The kids asking these questions are the kids who play video games like Doom,
but don't feel the urge to imitate them in real life. They're the juggalos who listen to
Insane Clown Posse rap about brutality and serial killers, but have no desire to kill
anyone. Ihcy'rc the 'Moncr" kids who have exhibited all the "warning signs" that
experts go on the talk shows about, yet are still doing fine.
These are the kids who hear politicians blaming TV and music and video games,
and shake their heads, because they know that's not where the problem really lies.
These are the kids who can feel the pull ofsomething else out there — the real cause of
Eric and Dylan — and are asking themselves what it is.
Many people aren't willing to get their hands dirty by probing the true reasons
behind what happened at Columbine. It's easier to believe in quick fixes than to
accept what the real problems might be.
After all, what's the easier sell for a politician: to go out there and tell people that
they've screwed up, that they need to take better care of their kids, that they've created
an ugly, uncaring society for the next generation, and that we need to search our own
souls for a solution?
Or to just tell them that the evil entertainment industry is ruining our kids?
It's the second option that many seemto prefer. It gets big ratings on TV and high
approval ratings for politicians, and makes everybody feel good by providing them
with a designated villain. It's much easier to say that Doom and South Park are
ruining our children than to think that maybe we have sorrething to do with it, too.
Want to blame the entertainment industry? Consider this: The entertainment
industry makes money by giving people what they want. The day that violent movies
slop turning a profit, violent movies will disappear. The day that fighting games lose
their appeal is the day that gan^s like Mortal Kombat will vanish. The day that
teenagers no longer relate to the angry music of Linp Bizkit or Nine Inch Nails is the
day those bands will cease to sell records. The entertainment industry doesn't inpose
sorre kind ofes il personality on consumers that's foreign to us; it feeds on who we
are and how we live.
Even so, the misic industry was one of the biggest targets criticized after the
attack on Colurrbine. Eric and Dylan were huge fens of German techno/metal. They
were especially partial to bands like Rammstein and KMFDM; since Eric had taken
German for years, he could translate the lyrics, and he liked the &ct that others
couldn't understand what he was listening to. Eric put quotes fromhis fevorite bands
on his Web site. He wore a KMFDM hat to school all the tins. His co-workers at
Blackjack Pizza say he was always singing the praises of his fevorite bands and
trying to get others to listen to them
After Coluniiine happened, RamiBtein and KMFDM became " villains" in the
eyes ofthe pro -censorship folk. TV news reports pulled out one quote ftomRammstein
that went, " You in the schoolyard / I'mready for killing."
Yet music doesn't teach people to kill. Music creates an emotion, whether it's
anger, sorrow, thoughtfiilness, happiness, or humor. What people do with their
emotions is up to them But music doesn't tell people what to do.
Some have criticized Insane Clown Posse because their lyrics involve sex,
murder, and brutality, laced with dark humot But ICP themselves put it best: they're
wearing clown makeup. Ifyou take what they have to say that seriously, then you
have something wrong with you — and that's not ICP's feult.
Marilyn Manson wears a $25 white contact lens in his lefi eye. He wears
costumes onstage. These are not the sages of our age. They aren't leaders. They are
entertainers. And although Marilyn Manson, ICP, and Rammstein have some songs
with a very powerfiil message, they aren't trying to change the world. They're just
writing about what they think.
So why is their music so violent? Simple — our society is a violent culture in and
ofitsel^ and our music is a reflection ofthat.
Ayn Rand wrote, "Would you follow the advice of someone who told you that
you nuist fight tuberculosis by confining the treatment to its synptoms — that you
must treat the cough, the high tenperature, the loss of weight — but must refiise to
consider or to touch its cause, the germs in the patient's lungs, in order not to
antagonize the germs? Do not adopt such a course in politics."
Music is the same way; it's a synptom, not a cause. Violent music did not just
appear one day and unleash violence upon the world. Society created violent music,
because there was something happening in society that made that kind of music
So the bigger question is this: What is happening to make society want this kind
of entertainment? What do kids see happening in real life that makes violent video
games so appealing?
Every day on the news kids can see that we're living in a violent world, where
adults murder, rape, and steal fi-omone another on a regular basis. Real life is fer worse
than anything Hollywood orgamemanufecturers have to offir.
If real-life violence is the problen^ would tougher gun laws prevent another
Not really. Existing laws already state that guns cannot be sold to youths under
eighteen, and Eric and Dylan found a way around that. Three of their guns were
purchased at a gun show, with the help of a fellow student who was eighteen. Their
TEC-9 handgun was bought illegally through a network of fiiends; the final
transaction took place behind a pizza store.
No matter how strict the gun laws were, Eric and Dylan were determined to find a
way around them If people want to buy weapons illegally, it's only a matter of time
before they succeed.
Did Eric and Dylan succeed in getting the guns because their parents weren't
paying attention? Were the desire and the means to kill a result of parental
negligence? After violent music and media, the parents are the next-fevorite target of
those looking fcr quick answers.
I can't speak for Eric Harris; I didn't know his femily well enough to comment one
way or the other But 1 know Dylan Klebold came froma good home, with two loving
parents who were fer better to him than many other parents I know. It doesn't make any
n»re sense to blame them than it does to blame Marilyn Manson.
Perhaps the answers lie a little deepen Perhaps we have to look toward
A human being is only that which he or she e?q5eriences. The human nrind at birth
is a " tabula rasa" — in other words, we come into the world with a blank slate. We
learn fromall that we see and hear, and this shapes our beliefe.
What Eric and Dylan saw happening in the real world shaped themmore than any
movie or video garre. In n^ opinion, what they e?^erienced in the real world is what
we should be investigating.
Kids today are growing up in a world that can only be described as " the blind
leading the blind." It's a world where parents, both ofwhomare working outside the
home and wrapped up in their own lives, are leaving the upbringing oftheir children
to public school teachers — who are unprepared both emotionally and logistically for
such a feat — and television, where programs teach conplicated, skewed morals that
kids' young minds aren't yet ready to digest.
Kids are raised on the playgrounds oftheir schools, where they learn that " might
nxJces right" and that physical brawn is a £ir more important asset than intelligence
and cunning. Yet they also learn that when they fight back, they are punished by the
people who arc supposed to protect themand to dispensejustice.
Dylan was harassed by kids who had never been taught why it's wrong to beat
up another classmate, or whose own self-esteemwas so crushed that they felt they had
to destroy his, too, so theirs could be punped up a little more.
The world, at its heart, has logical rules. Yet young people today are being taught
that the opposite is true. Kids grow up in a world where they learn through
ejqjerience that life is cruel, that their fellow human beings are mean-spirited bullies,
and that basic questions about right and wrong are answered with rules that have no
basis in reason other than " Because I said so."
As a result, they hunt for something else to believe in.
Dylan was a smart kid who could see the injustices of the world as clearly as 1
could. He was frustrated by them, and, like many other kids, he saw a bleak fiiture for
Eric Harris felt mich the same way.
Eric had been moved around all his life, and had known the diflSculties oftrying
to fit in at one strange school after another. Like Dylan, Eric was exceptionally smart.
And like Dylan, Eric saw the injustices of the world quite clearly, even as he was
getting beat up in the high school locker roomor junping to avoid the glass bottles
thrown al him out of the passing cars ofColumbine football players.
The di llcrcncc was, Eric had a dark side. He had a mean streak that was only foeled
by the injustices he saw. He chose to take revenge, in the most destructive way he
could think of^and once he had that solution in mind, he convinced Dylan that it
was a revenge that was deserved.
Why? What made them cross that line? What made it possible for Eric to
convince Dylan that they should murder thirteen innocent people? Why were Eric
and Dylan's n»rals and ethics so depleted that they carre to this point? Why were
they capable ofkilling on such a grand scale?
These are the hard questions, and the answers do not come easy.
Yet, no matter how hard it may be to find those answers, we have to start the
search. The £ict of the matter is that school shootings are continuing to happen. We
can just sit back and call the shooters " sick uDnsters, conpletely diferent from us,"
and decide that the problem will be solved by censoring music and violence in
movies. Or we can accept that there are more Erics and Dylans out there, who are
slowly being driven by society down the same path — and that ifwe act now, we can
still reach thembefore it's too late.
This book represents a piece of closure on this chapter ofn^ life. I'm finally
getting n^ story out — a story of growing up labeled as an "outsider" in the school
system, trying to get by each day in the &ce ofcruelty and indiference.
It's a story ofliving in fear even before the killings, the object of Eric Harris's
death threats. It's a story of being labeled a suspect by the police after I dared to
suggest that they could have stopped the killings by acting on the information I'd
It's a story of being powerless to get answers from the police once the
investigation was underway, and watching as one lie after another emerged about that
Most of all, iT^ story is one of growing up with a friend I thought I knew, then
watching himbecome something I never imagined he could be.
My hope is that the people who read this will look at the big picture behind
Columbine, and see where things need to change. I hope they recognize that they're
not alone when they question what happened that day, or when they wonder what's
really wrong with our society.
I hope that people will open their eyes.
LONG BEFORE ERIC HARRIS EVER ENTERED THE PICTURE, DYLAN
We met at Normandy Elementary SchooL It was the first day of first grade, a time
when school is something new and unej^lored. We were young, wide-eyed kids,
nervous and excited to be &cing this grand new adventure. School, afier all, is one of
the first steps you take without your parents right there next to you.
Dylan was a shy kid. The first day ofschooL he pretty much kept to himself Yet
n^ parents had always taught rre to give new people a chance. So it just seemed
natural to go up to Dylan and say hello.
Once I'd coaxed him out of his shell, I found out that Dylan and I were pretty
similar. For one thing, we were both diehard fens ofvideo games. Both ofus owned
the Nintendo Entertainment System, the cutting edge ofvideo games in 1987. We
became friends right away.
Our circle offriends included a good handful ofthe boys in tirst grade. I'hat year,
no one thought about "jocks" and " geeks" and the other social cliques that would
become dividers later on. Dylan and I were fiiends with Kevin Hofetra, who would
grow up to be captain ofthe soccer team at Columbine. In first grade, fiiends are
Like most people, n^' memories of first grade aren't exactly crystal clear But I do
remerriber it as a time where I felt like I belonged at school.
Brooks's parents, Randy and Judy Brown, cared a great deal about raising
their children in a good environment. Randy worked in real estate, and purchased a
house in the Jefferson County School District, which he had been told was "a great
place to raise a family. "
The Browns had two sons, Brooks and his younger brother, Aaron. At first, both
seemed very happy at Normandy Elementary School; in fact. Brooks raved to his
parents about Mrs. White, his first-grade teacher.
"Mrs. Whitewas wonderful," said Judy Brown. "She really took care of the kids
as if they were her own. Brooks loved her. "
Judy also recalled the positive environment that White created for her son and
his classmates. "What I remember most about Brooks from that time," she
continued, "is that in the mornings, I would drop him off and the other kids would
yell, 'Brooks! Over here! Over here! ' Everyone liked him; he was the big kid that
everybody wanted to play with, and he was nice to the other kids. He loved his
teacher, and he loved school.
"The next grade," she said, "was where things started to change."
People will ask me what I remenier the most about grade school with Dylan
Klebold. Sadly, ny strongest memory is of both of us kneeling on the floor of the
Normandy Elementary School bathroom, bawling our eyes out as we took turns
scrubbing a little girl's muddy jacket with a toothbrush.
It all started during recess. We were outside, playing in the leftover snow froma
few days before. As we ran around, I found a big patch ofice that was starting to melt
but was still plenty solid enough to play with.
"Hey, Dylan!" I said. "Come here!" By the time Dylan arrived, I was already
bouncing and sliding on the slushy patch. Dylan gamely j oined in, our feet smashing
little spiderwebs into the ice as it buckled under our weight.
Dylan's boot crashed down on a comer ofthe ice and made the whole patch shift.
It tipped into a puddle underneath, which splashed a good amount of muddy water
into the air. A girl in our class was standing nearby, wearing a brand-new coat her
parents had just given her; the mud left ajagged brown stripe right down the fi'ont of
It was an accident. We hadn't thought the ice was going to do that. But our
classmate took one look at her ruined coat and started screaming.
The second grade teacher immediately ran over to assess what was happening.
" It was an accident," I tried to say. " We were just playing with some ice, and — "
" Don't you have any respect for other people's property?" I remen4>er the teacher
yelling at us. " Don't you? You two are coming with me right now."
Dylan and 1 knew we were in trouble, but at the same tin's, we didn't understand
why the teacher was so angry. It wasn't as if we had thrown the mud at the girl, or
stolen her coat and rolled it around on the ground. Maybe we'd been a little careless,
but that's all. It was still an accident.
We tried to get the teacher to listen to us, but she ordered us to be quiet as she
carried the girl's coat into the bathroom
Both ofus were bawling by the time she had us at the sink, wetting a toothbrush.
She put the coat in Dylan's hands. "I want this cleaned!" she ordered. "You two will
stay in here and scrub that mid ofl^ and you're not leaving until I say you're finished!"
Choking back our tears, we took up the brush and started working. We quickly
discovered that using a toothbrush on mud wasn't very efficient — but we didn't have
any choice. Both ofus continued to cry, our ears burning red from the embarrassmenl
of being yelled at, of our teacher's spiteftil glare, of people looking at us as we
" It's not coming out!" Dylan kept saying, rubbing the same spot for what seemed
like the 500th time.
" We have to get it," I remember saying in response. I just kept repeating that.
" We have to get it."
Judy Brown happened to visit the school that day to drop off something for her
son during lunch hour.
"I was in the half and I ran into the teacher and she was red-faced mad, "Judy
recalls. "And I said, 'What's going on? ' She said, 'Your son and Dylan ruined this
girl's coat. He is in the bathroom right now, trying to clean it. 'I asked when this had
happened, and she said it had been over an hour before. She went and got Brooks to
have him talk to me, and when he came out, he was in tears.
"So I took her aside, and I said, 'You know what, you 're going a little too far
with this, '" .Judy continued. "I talked to Brooks and he said that he wanted to stay
in school, that everything was okay. Well, I went to pick him up after school, and
guess what? She had made them stay in there for the whole day, and now she was
keeping them after school as well. She wasn 't going to let it drop. This teacher was
out of control, and it was over mud. "
To this day. Judy is angry about the treatment of her son and his classmates in
second grade, and not just because of the bathroom incident. "She expected these
kids to be perfect, " she says today. "And kids aren't perfect. But she would have
none of it. She absolutely terrorized my child. "
Scrubbing a coat in the bathroom may not have been such a bad thing by itself
but it was kind of the icing on the cake. Second grade had, from the beginning, been
conplclcly diOcrcnt from first grade. For Dylan and me, it was the first time in our
young lives that we felt like an adult hated us.
The teacher would single out the kids who she caught picking their noses in
class, and openly mock themin ff'ont of everyone. She would yell at us, especially the
boys, fer almost any infi-action. Some teachers are nicer to boy students or to girl
students. It was clear where this teacher's preferences lay.
The teacher also frightened many kids with an ill-timed story about bees. Our
second grade class met in a tenporary structure outside of the main Normandy
Elementary building. A bees' nest was in the trees nearby, so it wasn't unusual to sec
the insects buzzing around as we walked by each day.
One day, our teacher chose to read to us a book called A Taste of Blackberries. It
was a Newberry Award winner, which is probably why she picked it. Still, it scared
us, because it involved a kid who dies fromabee sting.
For months afierward, Dylan and I were afraid of that bees' nest, and we weren't
the only ones. One ofthe girls was terrified, because she was allergic to bees. Kids
had everything from apprehension to outright terror on their &ces as they walked to
class each day, watching those insects out ofthe corner oftheir eye.
A few times, I told n^ parents about what was happening in school. It was the
first time I ever rementer hearing my £ither use the word " bitch." My parents tried to
conplain to the principal about the teacher; however, nothing was done.
So when the chance came to leave Normandy Elementary and join the accelerated
program at another school, Dylan and I didn't voice any objections.
By the end of second grade, Dylan and I had joined the Cub Scouts, building
Pinewood Derby cars and having " den meetings" every month. It was at one ofthese
meetings that n^' parents first met the Klebold femily.
Tom and Sue Klebold were the type of parents who made their children a top
priority. In addition to Dylan, they had an older son named Byron, and the Klebolds
made it a habit to attend every activity their kids were involved in. If Dylan and
Byron were involved in diffirent activities on the same night, then one parent would
go to Dylan's activity and the other would go to Byron's. They were always involved
in their sons' lives. To this day, when I hear people ask questions like "Where were
the parents?" when it comes to Coluniiine, I cringe. The Klebolds were excellent
parents to Dylan and Byron.
It was Tom Klebold who fought to make sure Dylan got into the accelerated
learning program in the first place. He had technically tested high enough, but
organizers were worried that there weren't enough female students who'd made the
cut. So when Mr. Klebold heard that Dylan was going to lose his spot, he stepped in.
His son wasn't going to be denied what he'd earned because ofpolitics, Mr. Klebold
said, and he made sure administrators corrected the problem
The Klebolds originally hailed fi-omOhio. Mr. Klebold worked in the oil and gas
industry; his job moved him first to Oklahoma, and then to Lakewood, Colorado.
Shortly after Dylan was bom, the Klebolds carre lo Littleton. Soon Mr Klebold
began working in the mortgage managerrent business, while Sue worked with
disabled students at Arapahoe Community College.
The Klebolds and n^ parents got along well, and rr^ mother and Mrs. Klebold
became close friends. I often saw them together, either when Dylan stayed over at
place or when I went to his.
The Klebolds discouraged violence in any form Dylan told me once that he
wasn't allowed to hav c any toy guns in the house. As we got older, his mom worried
about the level ofviolence in the video games we were playing.
Our parents' fiiendship was a bonus fcr Dylan and me; it made it easier fcr us to
spend time together. On weekends at each other's houses we played board games,
built castles out ofLego blocks, and battled each other on Nintendo. Dylan was a
master at the game Ninja Gaiden; I could never keep up with him
We also discovered the joys of chasing crawdads at the creek near n^ house.
Dylan would come over, and we'd grab a couple ofjars and head down to the creek.
When we'd caught a few crawdads, we'd put themin our terrariumand keep themfcr a
few weeks. Sometimes our moms would take us to the park together; the adults would
sit on benches and talk while Dylan and I chased frogs.
My momhas a picture ofDylan and me at the state Capitol in downtown Denver.
I'm pointing to the building, and Dylan is standing next to me, grinning. We were
mighty third-graders in the big city, and we were ready to conquer the world.
I couldn't have asked for a better pal in grade school than Dylan Klebold. In feet,
Toy momstill has a drawing ofthe two ofus that I made in class; underneath it, I wrote
in crayon, " What scares me most is ifDylan does boast that he isn't n^' friend."
"Dylan was the sweetest, cutest kid you'd ever meet," said Brooks's father,
Randy "He was really shy though, and it would take him fifteen or twenty minutes
to warm up to us every time he came over, even though we knew him and we were
close to him. After he'd warmed up, he was okay. "
Judy Brown remembers Dylan Klebold as "a sensitive, caring child" who
worried a lot about what other people thought— perhaps too much for his own
good. She recognized the way that Dylan seemed to internalize what was bothering
him, rather than being open about it. It was a familiar problem.
"I raised my kids to be extroverts, because I was an introvert when I was
younger and I never wanted them to go through what I went through, " she said.
"W hen they were little, I would take them to parks and they would go over and talk
to the adults they saw. I would always say to them — and maybe I shouldn 't have said
this to Brooks so much — 'Loud and proud. 'I wanted to teach them to speak up.
"That was just something Dylan could never do," she said. "I used to be the
same way, never telling anyone what was bothering me. Ever... As Dylan got older,
he never told his parents he was teased. Never. He kept it all inside. "
The accelerated learning program lor students in tlie Je&rson County Public
Schools is called CHIPS, or " Challenging High Intellectual Potential Students." Its
intent is to push advanced kids to the next level. Classes took place not at Normandy
Elementary, but at Governor's Ranch Elementary a few miles away. We were promised
advanced learning classes, regular field trips to educational spots all over the state,
and an education that would put us well ahead ofthe rest ofthe pack by the time we
got to junior high.
Dylan and I both got in. So did a few ofour friends fi'omNomiandy. Our parents
congratulated us. They were proud to see their boys test high enough to move to the
next level — and we felt pretty good about it, too.
What we didn't know at the time was that admission into CHIPS was based on
politics as much as ability. SortK kids got in because they tested high enough on the
entrance exam; other kids got in because ofwho their parents were. Naturally, parents
in Jefferson County wanted to be able to say that their child was in " the accelerated
program," and some parents had fiiends in the school district, or were otherwise in a
position to pull a few strings.
As a result, the CHIPS program wasn't a big group of accelerated kids who were
there to better themselves. Instead, what you had was one group of kids who had
earned their spots, another group ofkids who hadn't — and all ofthem trying to one-
up the others, each trying to prove that he or she wasn't one ofthe " free ride" kids.
Ifyou did a class project, you had to safeguard it fi-omkids who might smash it
when your back was turned. When kids smacked each other in the back ofthe head
during class, the teacher would look the other way. Once kids realized that discipline
in CHIPS was nonexistent, they went wild.
Finding friends within the CHIPS program was virtually impossible. In conplete
contrast to the friendly atmosphere we'd had at Normandy, classmates in CHIPS
weren't friends; they were conpetitors, and it was a battle to make sure that nobody
got too &r ahead of anybody else. There's a theory about " crabs in a barrel": when a
lot ofcrabs are trapped together in a barrel, every now and then one ofthem manages
to climb over the others and make it to the top. When it does this, the other crabs grab
onto it and pull it back down. Classes in the CHIPS program worked in nuch the
Looking to the other kids at Governor's Ranch for friendship didn't work, either
Every day at recess, the other kids knew who the CHIPS kids were. " Oh, there's the
smart kids," they'd sneer They hated our guts. Dylan and I got our first taste of
bullying on the playgrounds ofGovemor's Ranch. It wouldn't be our last.
We had been put into a class that we'd thought would consist ofintelligent kids
and teachers who cared about us. What we got was the opposite, and we felt
disappointed and hurt.
I could feel the ej^erience making me meaner. In first and second grade, I never got
into fistfights; now they were almost commonplace. I would even fight with ny little
brother, Aaron, who was two grades below me. I was spending every day defending
rr^self from bullies on the playground and saboteurs in the classroon^ and n^
aggression was boiling over.
Dylan was showing signs of it, too. One day, he and I got into a fight on the
playground. He said something that made me mad, so I pushed him. Just like that, he
jumped on me and started punching; we rolled around, locked together, until the
teachers peeled us apart and sent us to the principal's oflSce.
That fight was the first time I ever saw Dylan's tenper Because Dylan internalized
things so much, he would let his anger build up within him until one little thing
finally set it off When that happened, it was like an explosion.
The fiinny thing was, we weren't even that mad at each other; we were still close
friends, still sleeping over at each other's houses. Yet the day-to-day experience of
school had us both on edge, to the point that we were as ready to lash out at each
other as our tormenters were.
I didn't trust authority anymore. I didn't trust n^ classmates. I was having trouble
even trusting my own friends. My anger spilled over into everything at Governor's
Ranch, until finally I had to lace an ugly truth; I hated school, and everything about
it, and I didn't want to be there anymore.
I had been a straight-A student in first and second grade. Now, as grades
started to slip, parents could see that something was wrong. When they asked me
what it was, Itold them everything that had been happening.
At first, they thought I was just having trouble adjusting, but they soon realized
that the problemran deeper They began looking into alternatives.
As it turned out, Byron Klebold was attending a nearby school called John L.
Shafe Elementary. The Klebolds recommended the school to n^ parents, noting that
it had one ofthe top ratings in the state and that Byron was very happy there.
When parents pulled me fix)m Governor's Ranch at the end ofthe year, I was
thrilled. I was the lone dropout fromthe third-grade CHIP S program, and proud ofit; I
was offto anew start at a new school.
Dylan, however, stayed behind. 1 wonder sometimes why he never wanted to
come along, considering that his brother was there and he was so unhappy with
CHIPS. Chances are, he knew how much it meant to his parents to see him in the
advanced placement program
He wouldn't have wanted to let them down.
IT WAS THURSDAY AFTERNOON, AFTER ANOTHER LONG DAY IN SIXTH
grade. Dylan, my little brother Aaron, and I were taking our usual thirty minutes of
video game play in front of the TV
This had beconK a tradition for the three of us, now that I was at Shafe
Elementary. Dylan's momwas still at work for the first few hours after school, so n^
momwould pick Dylan up and bring himover to rny house. When Mrs. Klebold got
offwork, she carre over and joined us.
Today, though, we were treating our video games lar irore seriously than usual.
After all, we had just acquired a new title: Mortal Kombat.
The concept behind Mortal Kombat is sinple. It's a martial arts fighting game.
The player chooses fromeight diferent warriors, all ofwho have come to the " Shaolin
Tournament" fer diferent reasons. Scorpion, the undead ninja, is seeking revenge on
his opponent. Sub-Zero; Johnny Cage is the martial-arts movie star; Sonja, the
Airterican fighter, is chasing after arch-criminal Kano; Liu Kang is seeking honor for
his femily, and so on.
Mind you, these plot details don't matter much in the grand scheme of things. All
that matters is that you beat the crap out of the other guy before he beats the crap out
ofyou. The player who takes two rounds out ofthreeis the winner ofthe fight.
Aaron and I had saved up our money for weeks to huy Mortal Kombat. We'd even
found the " blood code" for the game in one of our gaming magazines. If you entered
the right button con4>ination at Mortal Kombat's title screen, it would enable blood
to fly fromyour opponent every time you connected a punch, making the game seem fer
more " adult," like an R-rated movie.
Now it was finally ours. We had the manual sitting there in ti'ont ofus. stating the
button configurations for each move the characters did. From Johnny Cage's Splits to
Liu Kang's Fireball, we had the moves memorized before we even started playing. I
chose to play as Scorpion. Aaron chose Sub-Zero. Dylan chose Kano. We were ready.
By now, Mrs. Klebold had arrived at the house. My momstarted the timer for our
thirty minutes, and then she and Mrs. Klebold left us to it.
Only two can fight at a tiiiK, so the three ofus constantly rotated: the winner of a
round took on the person who had sat out the last round. Unfortunately, this meant
that n^' brother stayed in the game while Dylan and I keep trading off Aaron was two
years younger than us, and it drove me crazy to get beaten so regularly by n^' little
brother But we still played relentlessly. After all, we wanted to see sorrething never
seen before in a video game: a fetality.
The &ality was a new concept, introduced in Mortal Komhat. After one player
won two rounds out of three, the screen went dark. In a deep, sinister voice, the game
instructed the player to " finish him" The player would have about two seconds to
hit the right button combination; ifhe hit it in time, then the winner would do a
special " trick" to finish offthe other character.
We didn't know what the trick would be, ofcourse; we were only ten and twelve
years ofage. The instructions didn't tell us.
My brother was the first to pull it off After beating Dylan, Aaron quickly nailed
the combination. We watched as Sub-Zero reached over, grabbed Kano's head, and
ripped it ftomhis body, conplete with the gruesome sound oftearing flesh. Sub-Zero
then held the dripping head aloft in triumph — ^the spine dangling fi'om the now-
severed skull — as bonus points piled up under Aaron's score.
We burst out laughing.
Not fer away, n^ mother and Mrs. Klebold were having a conversation about the
new violent video game that their sons were playing.
Mrs. Klebold — the same momwho wouldn't let Dylan play with toy guns — had
reservations about Mortal Komhat. She was scared that this violence might afifect us
in a negative way. She thought maybe she should take the game away.
My mom was concerned as well. Aaron and I had been brought up in a very
nonviolent home. When we were younger, n^ parents watched movies before we
could, then noted where the violent scenes were so they could fest-forward through
them whenever we were there. In feet, one time n^ dad fell asleep in fi-ont of the TV
during the movie Beetlejuice, so vc^ brother Aaron wound up seeing the scenes that
rr^ momhad deemed " too scary." My momreally let rny dad have it over that.
Now, though, we were older, and n^ momwas learning to loosen the reins a little.
She suggested that she and Mrs. Klebold listen to us while we played. They would
decide what to do about the game based on our reaction.
We were laughing.
There was blood dripping li"om Kano's spine, and skin flaps hanging from his
severed head. Apool ofblood was forming on the ground.
We weren't traumatized. We weren't crying. We were laughing — and we didn't feel
bad, not one bit.
Why? Why did three boys laugh at such a disturbing death? Why were young
boys all over the nation laughing? Was this, as some would have you believe, really
the beginning ofthe fell ofDylan Klebold?
Mortal Kombat represented the beginning ofviolence as a selling point in video
games. After the success of that game, publishers went crazy with blood and gore.
From Doom to Postal to State of Emergency, all violent-themed games owe
something to Mortal Kombat.
Today, thanks to what happened at Columbine, many ofthese games are under fire
ifomthe pro-control, anti-thought politicians. They believe that since Eric and Dylan
played Doom and then went on to kill people, Doom was in some way responsible
for their actions.
In the halls ofColumbine, Eric and Dylan set out pipe bombs in specific spots, in
close proximity. Their goal was to have one blow up and start a chain reaction
through the east side ofthe school. How do I know that? Because that's how you kill
your opponent in DukeNukem.
They walked in with their TEC-9 and Hi-Point assault rifle, shooting wildly.
They thought this would work because it works in DukeNukem.
I won't dispute the idea that some ofthe elements of their plan were derived from
video games. What I disagree with is the notion that video games caused the
shootings — as well as most ofthe rest ofthe violence that takes place in America.
There are two basic types ofvideo game players: those in touch with reality and
those outside reality. Those who are in touch with reality represent the vast majority
of players. We are the ones who, after work, go home lor a few rounds of our lavorite
game, or who sit for hours and try to figure out parts of a new level. We're even the
kind you see sitting on sidewalks in front of stores at midnight, waiting to purchase
the latest systemthe moment it's released. We just prefer the hands-on nature ofvideo
garres to the mindless nature oftelevision.
However, there's that small segment of society that loses touch with the line
between fentasy and reality. They are the ones who get into these games to such an
extent that they believe there is some elerrent of reality in them You've seen these
guys, dressed in capes with wands, wearing Klingon masks, and speaking of the
characters as ifthey were real people.
Eric and Dylan both fell into this category. Their delusions went beyond capes
and spells, and spilled into more serious things.
However, that doesn't make their actions the feult ofthe video games they played.
Video gartKS may have given them a place to direct their rage — but something else
caused their rage in the first place. Something caused themto cross the line offentasy
and embrace imaginary worlds like Doom and Duke Nukem as an alternate reality.
When Eric and Dylan got into the world ofvideo games, they loved it, because it
was a world with definite rules. Those rules were preset, and they could not be
broken. For a young man in a world like ours, it was a godsend. In the real world, the
rules change constantly — and you could be in trouble at a moment's notice. But video
games are diferent.
In a video garre you only get what you know; nothing changes. So video games
are a sort ofhaven, an escape to a logical, exciting world where two things are ceilain:
justice is done, and you get what is due you based on your actions. Everything
happens through your own doing, your own mistakes, and your own achievements.
Eric and Dylan got sucked into this appealing fentasy because it was an escape
from the troubles ofeveryday life. When you have a place to go — ^whether it be home,
school, a bar, a drug den, or a video game — where things seemperfect, then you go to
that place as much as you can. It's a type ofdrug — a fentasy — ^where happiness exists
because things make sense.
in real lile, things didn't make sense. We saw our classmates being beaten by their
parents, who were supposed to love them and nurture them. We heard our friends
talking about how niich their mommies hated their daddies — ^kids turned into
bargaining chips in custody battles they couldn't even begin to comprehend. We saw
racisni, sexism, and cultural oppression — not just on TV or on the Internet, but in our
own daily lives. These came from the adults we looked up to. These came from the
world that we'd become apart ofsomeday.
Kids are lied to by the people in power on a regular basis, whether it's in school
or in politics. Our generation has come to know injustice as a way of life. Kids every
day drop out and move on because they've come to believe that there are no fixed
standards, and no reason fcr hope.
We can laugh at a virtual bloody skull, complete with severed spinal cord, on our
video game screens. We know it isn't real. We know it's a work of imagination.
It isn't so easy to laugh at the horrors ofthe real world.
Shaffir Elementary proved to be a big iiiprovement over where Fd been, hi some
ways, though, it was still tough; it's never easy to attend three schools in three years,
and by the tirre I arrived at Shaffir, most kids had already formed their groups of
friends and didn't pay too much attention to me. It wasn't the constant bullying and
cruelty that Governor's Ranch had been, but it was lonely.
My grades didn't inprove. My previous experiences had soured me on school,
and I had started to tune it out. It wasn't that I couldn't handle the work; I was still
getting A's on the assignments I turned in. The thing was, Fd only turn in halfn^
assignments. If you get three A's and two incorrpletes, your average score drops
down to a D real quick.
My parents and I began fighting about n^ grades. It didn't help when I took the
Iowa Test ofBasic Skills — a multiple-choice standardized quiz that kids all over the
country take every year — and scored in the 99th percentile. My parents would look at
that, then look at the Cs and D's on n^' report card, and demand to know why I wasn't
" working to ny potential."
My answer would always be sinple.
" Because I hate school."
"Brooks was grounded a lot. " said Rcifidv Brown. "There, was one program
where the teaehers would call us and say, 'Brooks didn't do his homework this week, '
and he'd get grounded. We hoped that would get him to shape up. It didn't.
"It drove us nuts because his behavior was so self-defeating, " he continued. "I
could never figure out what his problem was. The more we would push him, the less
he would do. "
However, the Browns weren't the kind of family that left the education of their
sons completely to the school systeni. Both parents would read to the hoys every
night; while Judy read them children's classics or stories about history. Randy
challenged theni with more advanced literature like Cyrano de Bergerac and
excerpts from Les Miserables.
They also would make it a point to teach the boys a new vocabulary word each
week. This led to some comical moments at school.
"My favorite story was what happened to Aaron in first grade," Judy said. "The
teacher said, 'Okay, class, I need words that have the short vowel sound 'a. 'So she's
going on with 'cat,' and 'bat,' and 'hat. 'And Aaron raises his hand and says, 'How
about 'anomaly? ' The teacher couldn't believe it. As the kids got older, we bought
the Word Smart hook and did a page a flight at the table.
"Most important, though, was that we wanted them to have a sense of culture, "
she added. " We took them to high school plays. We'd take them to the Events Center,
Of- to the touring companies of Broadway shows that came through town. We went
to Peter Pan, Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables . . . We thought it was important
that the boys learn about the good things in the world. "
In the fell of 1993, 1 started junior high at Ken Caryl Middle School. It meant a
reunion with many ofrry old classmates from Governor's Ranch — and a major increase
in the aggression that had been cultivated there.
Dylan and I were at the same school again. Yet we hardly saw each other, because
students at Ken Caryl were divided into three groups, or " cores." In seventh grade,
you had cores 7A, 7B, and 7C. Ifyou were in core 7A, you'd hardly ever cross paths
with the kids in 7B. Dylan and I were in diffirent cores. We night as well have been at
diffirent schools; I'd see himoutside occasionally, but that was it.
Junior high was difficult, because the bullying had become w orse. I got beat up a
lot, especially by the athletic kids. Their reason was sinple: I wasn't one ofthem It's
not like I didn't try; I even played basketball for the Ken Caryl teamin seventh grade.
I liked baseball and soccer, and sometimes I'd get in on football games if one got
going on the field. But I didn't fit in with the mentality of the "jocks." They didn't
like me, and they refiised to accept me into their groups. They preferred to just push
the different kids around.
I went through a period oflrying to be what I thought otherpeople wanted me to
be — a person they would like and accept. I started bragging about n^sel^ making up
whatever I thought might make people like me. I'd tell people I had tested with a
really high IQ, or I'd lie about how many miles per hour n^ festball was. It was a
stupid thing to do, but when you want friends, sometimes you try to paint yourselfas
someone other than who you really are. You watch what other people are doing, you
ligure out what's " cool," and you adapt accordingly.
Of course, it made no diference. So 1 decided to try and fight back. One time
during recess I was being made frin of by this kid named Jeren^' and a group of his
friends. Tliey followed rre around, calling roe " feggot" and making fon while I tried lo
play football at recess. They'd reach out and trip me, or kick me when I wasn't
looking, and then laugh about it.
When I'd had enough, I followed him and said, "Hey, Jeren^', turn around." He
did. and I punched him in the nose as hard as I could. He fell down, but his friends
immediately junped on me. Needless to say, I took a pretty bad beating — and
afterwards, as I was walking to the office, the other kids laughed and pointed at rre,
calling me a " pussy."
Teachers would punish any kid who was involved in a fight, no matter who had
started it. One time I was in the locker room after gym class when, without any
provocation, a kid came up and kicked me square in the crotch. I immediately dropped
to the ground, while friend Matt Comwell junped on the offending kid and started
throwing punches. All three ofus wound up in the oflSce.
Even though all three ofus told the san^ story — the first kid even admitted that
he'd kicked me first — all three ofus were punished. I received a suspension sinply
because I'd been involved, even though I'd never thrown a single punch. Matt got an
even bigger suspension because he'd defended me. You really begin to resent those in
authority when things like that happen.
By eighth grade, I had started hanging out with kids in the "punk" crowd. The
punk kids accepted me. They felt like outcasts, just as I did, and they identified with
music that attacked the establishment and the majority. I also noticed that when you
have friends around you, the bullies don't pick on you as much. They might still call
you names as they walk by, but they won't gang up on you and start hitting you.
School felt like a prison yard, in a way: you find a " gang" ofpeople to hang out with
so that the other " gangs" leave you alone.
My grades dropped further, alarming parents. We started fighting more and
more. I just didn't care anymore — not about grades, not about n^ future, and definitely
not about school. I was involved in a few extracurricular activities, like basketball at
the YMCA and working with the disabled kids at school, but more and more, I started
to drop out of them By eighth grade, all I wanted was to hang out with n^ friends —
fiiends that n^ parents really didn't approve of
I did things to escape fromn^ problems. I worked on computers. I played video
games. I disappeared into books. Anything seemed better than the real world.
Dylan and I spent little time together during junior high. Not only were we not
in the same classes, he wasn't part of n^' crowd. While I rebelled, frightening n^
parents, Dylan kept his anger inside and focused on being a good student. He didn't
really come over to rr^ house anymore, and for a while we lost track ofeach other.
However, Dylan was as much a target for the bullies as I was. He was still
internalizing his anger and pain, escaping into coirputers or video games rather than
deal with the troubles he feced. But that escape doesn't last for long. Eventually, the
player must return to the real world — and when Dylan did that, the treatment he
received fromhis classmates affected himdeeply.
It wouldn't be until high school that I would learn just how rmch.
freshmen at columbine
I CAME TO COLUMBINE IN THE FALL OF 1995, BELIEVING IN MY HEART
that school was going to get better. All through junior high, all I had heard about
were the opportunities at Columbine — ^the activities, the teachers, and the chance to
learn about bigger and mare adult things. New kids, new beginnings, and a new
school. 1 had so much hope.
We arrived at a new Columbine, so to speak. During the summer of 1995,
construction crews had torn down much of the school and performed a $15 million
renovation on it. Our class, the class of 1999, would be the first to enter and graduate
fi'omthe newly refixrbished building.
That fell I met Eric Harris fcr the first time.
My friend Nick Baun^art had decided to make a haunted house out ofhis garage
for Halloween. Yd known Nick since grade school, and we'd become friends again at
Columbine, so when he asked people to come over and help, ofcourse I pitched in.
Dylan came along, and he had Eric with him I also met Zach Heckler, who like us
was really into computers. In feet, a whole lot ofpeople came out. It was just a silly
haunted house, but everyone wanted to be a part of it. We were crazy freshmen
looking for something cool to do.
I talked to Eric a little that night. The next day, I went to the bus stop and saw
him there. He only lived a few blocks away from me; it turned out that we'd been
riding the same bus and just hadn't really had much reason to talk until now. Besides,
Eric didn't ride every day. He would snag rides from his older brother whenever he
could, because no one wants to be "one of the losers riding the bus." But over the
next few weeks, he and I started hanging out regularly.
Unlike Brooks and Dylan, Eric Harris did not grow up in Colorado. In fact, his
family moved several times during his childhood. He was born on April 9, 1981, the
second child of Wayne and Kathy Harris. Two years later, the family would move to
Dayton, Ohio; by the time Eric was in third grade, they had relocated to Oscada,
Michigan. When Eric was in sixth grade, the Harrises moved again, this time to
Plattsburg, New York; a little over a year later, when Plattsburg Air Force Base
closed, Wayne Harris retired from service and moved the family back to his native
home of Colorado.
From most accounts, it was hard for Eric to leave his friends behind each time
he moved. Ken Caryl Middle School in Littleton would be the seventh school he had
attended since kindergarten.
Eric and Brooks never spoke at Ken Caryl, although Eric and Dylan became
friends. Both loved computers, video games, and hasehall. However, it would not he
until their high school years that Eric and Dylan would become inseparable. Both
were computer-savvy, both felt like outcasts, and both knew the pain of bullies and
Also, both were quickly rejected by the establishment at Columbine.
Eric's older brother Kevin was a kicker fcr the Coluniine football team Kevin
had always been friendly toward us. He was technically the "jock" in the fenrily, and
he'd give us a hard time about being freshmen, but it was always good-natured. Kevin
was on the football teambecause he loved the game. It wasn't about status.
I've always enjoyed sports, but not the rrentality that seems to go with them I
played basketball in junior high and enjoyed going to professional sports games
with friends. Sometimes Dylan would talk to me about the fentasy football leagues he
played in. TTie games thenselves are great — I can relate to the excitement and the
conpetition. But what I don't relate to are the people who equate sports with status.
"I ama loolball player, and therefore I'm better than you." '"I ama basketball player,
and therefore I deserve to make out with all the cheerleaders. Pathetic geeks like you
are not on n^ level." I couldn't understand that. I didn't see any reason to play a sport
other than pure love of the game. Too many people at Coluniine seemed to be playing
for other reasons.
I don't mean to imply that all jocks in the world are jerks. I've known athletes
who are good people. The thing is, Coluni>ine's culture worshipped the athlete — and
that unconditional adulation had a pretty bad efect on many of the jocks at our
Eric shared ny opinion on that. That's why he didn't play for the Coluntine
soccer team, even though he loved soccer.
Yet Eric loved his brother, and he loved going to games during our freshman year
to watch Kevin play. Some have suggested that there was some sibling rivalry there,
since Kevin was a football player and Eric hated football players, but I never noticed
any problems. There we were, cheering in the stands — and Eric was cheering as loud
as the rest ofus.
During freshman year, we fonned a circle of friends that included Zach Heckler,
Nick Baumgart, Eric, and Dylan. Our fevorite place to hang out was the Columbine
The library was a great place to trade jokes, or sit and talk about how much we
hated the school. Conversations like those were nothing unusual. But we'd have fim,
Nick earned himself a reputation early on as the clown of Coluni)ine's Class of
1999. We quickly discovered that he would do virtually anything for money, no
matter how stupid or humiliating it was. Once we paid himto make an ass ofhiinself
in the library by hitting on a girl he liked.
Usually this money would be no more than the couple of quarters that we could
scrape together at the time, but for Nick, it was the principle of the thing. He didn't
really care about the money; he just knew that he could inake people laugh, and that il
was his " designated role" at Coluni)ine to be the clown. So he filled that role with a
Sometimes we would get so rowdy with our jokes that we'd get kicked out ofthe
libraiy for the rest ofthe day. Most ofthe tiine, though, we did our best to avoid
causing trouble. After all, our fevorite thing was using school coirputers to surf the
Internet, and we didn't want to lose that privilege.
Freshman year was the best, because there were relatively few restrictions. In
1995 the Internet was still a relatively new trend, and school officials didn't know
that much about what was on it. So the monitors didn't pay any attention when we
went to sites like InsaneClownPosse.com , Monty Python Online, or News Askew,
filmmaker Kevin Smith's Web site. We'd get online and screw around all through
Sophonwre year, though, they changed the policy on us. Now we had to have
permission to be on certain sites, and we'd get in trouble if we were caught surfing
one that wasn't "education-related." Our Columbine school ID cards had three
" lights" on them: red, yellow, and green. The first tiine the teachers caught you going
to a non-educational site, they punched out the green light on your ID and called you
a " yellow-lighter" That meant you were " in trouble" and had a warning against you.
If they caught you a second tirtK, they punched the yellow light. That meant you
weren't allowed to use the Internet for the rest ofthe year.
To enforce this policy, anyone using a conputer in the school library had to put
his or her ID card up on top ofthe conputer monitor, so that the teachers on duty
could see. That's not to say that you couldn't still go to "inappropriate" sites,
though. I got away with it. You just had to be carefiil.
Conputers were huge for us. Everyone is on the Internet now, but we were the
kind of kids who were using it back when it was a " geek thing." All ofus loved to
sit on a conputer and do nothing else.
I'd been into conputers since I was a little kid, when n^ dad bought a
Commodore. Most people don't even remember it, but it was a small, sinplc conpiilcr
that you could learn programming on. So as a kid, I would sit and learn syntax code. 1
read books on conputer programming, then tried to do it n^'self As newer conputers
came out, like the Apple IIE, I got e?q5erience on them, and then in fourth grade
parents bought our first IBM.
Conputers were one ofthe things that bonded us in our fi-eshman year of high
school. Nick was really into graphic design and working on Macintoshes. Eric was a
video game nut who talked sometimes about designing games for a living. All ofus
lived for playing Sega Genesis or Nintendo, and we loved conputer games like Duke
Nukem and Doom.
Most people looked at conputers then as a "nerd" thing. We were proud to be
nerds. We could relate to the logical simplicity of a computet It made sense.
What we saw happening at Colunbine didn't make sense.
It seems like once you get to high school, all ofthe social groups are decided
within the first few weeks. Once they've solidified, the cruelty begins.
Sometimes kids would just ignore us. But often, we were targets. We were
fi-eshmen, and conputer-geek fi-eshnen at that. At lunchtime the jocks would kick our
chairs, or push us down onto the table fi"om behind. They would knock our food trays
onto the floor, trip us, or throw food as we were walking by. When we sat down, they
would pelt us with candy fi"omanother table. In the hallways, they would push kids
into lockers and call them names while their fi-iends stood by and laughed at the
show. In gym class, they would beat kids up in the locker roombecause the teachers
Seniors at Coluntine would do things like pour baby oil on the floor, then
literally " go bowling" with freshmen; they would throw the kid across the floor, and
since he couldn't slop, he'd crash right into other kids while the jocks pointed and
giggled. The administration finally put a stop to it after a fi-eshman girl slipped and
broke her arm
One guy, a wrestler who everyone knew to avoid, liked to make kids get down on
the ground and push pennies along the floor with their noses. This would happen
during school hours, as kids were passing fi-omone class to another Teachers would
see it and look the other way. " Boys will be boys," they'd say, and laugh.
The problem was that the bullies were popular with the administration.
Meanwhile, we were the "trouble kids," because we didn't seem to fit in with the
grand order ofthings. Kids who played football were doing what you're supposed to
do in high school. Kids like us, who dressed a little differently and were into diffirent
things, made teachers nervous. They weren't interested in reaching out to us. They
wanted to keep us at arm's length, and if they had the chance to take us down, they
The bullies liked to propel paper clips at us with a rubber band. If a teacher saw
you get hit, he or she did nothing. But as soon as you threw it back, or did something
to defend yourself you were done. The teacher would grab you and you would be in
the office. We were the "undesirables," and the teachers were just waiting for an
excuse to nail us. The bullies knew it.
Usually we didn't fight back. One thing we learned early on was that if we
responded at all to what the bullies did, they'd do it more. Bullies want power They
want boosts to their self-esteem, and they think that if they can make you fear them,
they've won something. That's the mentality that bullied kids have to deal with on an
everyday basis. We knew that there was nothing we could do to stop thenv but at
least they wouldn't get anything out ofit ifwe just ignored them
Even so, the pain of bullying was taking its toll on us. Eric, especially, was a
target. He had two strikes against him; the first was that he had a slight chest
deformity. It wasn't that noticeable — it was just sunken in a bit — but when Eric
would lake his shirt off'in P.E. class, the bullies were ready and waiting to mock him
Mocking a guy for a physical problemhe can't control is one ofthe most humiliating
ways to bring himdown.
On top ofthat, Eric was the shortest ofour group. The rest ofus, as we got older,
became well over six feel in height; Eric never did. He was small, he was a " computer
geek," and he wasn't even from Colorado to begin with. He was as prime a target as
the bullies at Columbine could have asked for.
Brooks's experiences were not unique. A year after the Columbine tragedy,
research into the school's atmosphere was conducted by Regina Huerter, Director
of Juvenile Diversion for the Denver District Attorney's Office. Huerter's findings
paint a disturbing picture of cruelty and indifference in Columbine's halls.
From October 14 to November 29, 2000, Huerter conducted interviews with
twenty-eight adults and fifteen current or past students regarding their experiences
with bullying at Columbine and how administrators responded to it.
Huerter's nine-page report was presented to the Governor's Columbine Review
Commission on December 1, 2000. It contained numerous examples of assaults,
racism, and other forms of bullying that witnesses say went on in the years before
the Columbine murders.
"All students with whom I spoke, independent of their status at school,
acknowledged there was bullying," Huerter wrote. "One identified the unwritten
rules of survival in the school as: Don't screw with anyone who can beat you up,
don 't look at jocks in the eye, bump them, or hit on their girlfriend, and don 't walk
in the wrong area . . .'"
At the same time, Huerter noted "a strong perception from nearly everyone I
spoke with that there was 'no reason to say anything about the bullying — no one
was going to do anything. 'Some students were just 'untouchable. "'
Huerter described an "overwhelming" sense that teachers responded only to
bullying they had personally witnessed — and that when "certain parties" were
involved, even these incidents were overlooked.
Students and parents who did report bullying often met with an unsatisfactory
response. Among the examples Huerter mentioned in her report:
• TWo students repeatedly bullied a fifteen-year-old classmate in Physical
Education class two years before the shooting. "The victim was repeatedly
subjected to 'twisters,' a form of pinching and twisting the skin, " Huerter
wrote. "Although the class was in session, the teacher didn't acknowledge
knowing what was taking place. Another form of bullying against this
student, a practicing Jew, involved racial slurs and ethnic intimidation,
including threatening by the bullies to 'build an oven and set him on fire. '
Each time a basket was made during RE. basketball, the bullies would
state, 'that's another Jew in the oven. ' They also wrote a song to torment
the victim." The hoy reported the hu/lviiig, and iniliaHy administrators
confronted the bullies over their actions. However, the report states, the
victim continued to he harassed for the next year and a half- — and each
time the new incidents were reported, "The counselor would hring the bully
in to question him, the bully would deny the behavior, and they would let it
go, telling the family, 'we're doing everything we can,'" Huerter wrote.
"The victim states that 'they (the administration) did everything but call
me a liar."
• One student told his parents he wouldn't go back to Columbine after an
incident with 'four or five football players shoving and pushing him,
harassing him verbally and following him to his car." The boy's father
called school officials, who did not return the call for six weeks. When an
administrator did finally call hack, he was very short and rude, the father
recalled. The family pulled the student from Columbine and enrolled him
in Heritage High School nearby. The student told Huerter that he still
refuses to enter Columbine property to this day.
• "I was told by adults working in the district that they were afraid to speak
up about school issues, including school culture and bullying behavior,
because they feared losing their jobs, " Huerter wrote. "All said bullying
behavior was going on, that they did tell APs (associate principals), and
nothing was done. "
According to Huerter. several of the individuals she interviewed pointed out
that deans, assistant principals, and principals were "often, if not always, coaches,
or had a coaching background. This feeds a further perception that athletes were
given preferential treatment by those deans or APs. "
Students who weren't the main targets of the bullies did not always realize the
extent of the problem. One former student Huerter interviewed 'felt the cliques and
bullying were just part of being in school. She doesn 't believe that now. "
When this young woman's sister started at Columbine, she went from straight
A's to failing. The family didn't know about it for months, until finally a physics
teacher called. The girl reported being unhappy in Columbine's atmosphere, so her
parents chose to enroll her in another school instead. There, "she is again
flourishing, " and notes that kids at her new school are friendly regardless of what
"cliques " they're in.
The older sister now works with teens from several dijferent schools. "As they
talk about their school experiences it has become apparent that bullying is not
present in all schools — at least not to the degree she witnessed at Columbine,"
As for students like Eric Harris and Dylan Klehold, Huerter wrote that
everyone she interviewed described the pair as "loners" and "often the brunt of
ridicule and bullying. Although no one had specifics about when and the degree of
bullying they received, most often it was about shoving, pushing and name-
Even those who associated with Eric and Dylan were punished. A female
student told Huerter that she was talking to Dylan Klehold in the school hallway
during her freshman year. "After their conversation was over, one of the notorious
bullies slammed her against the lockers and called her a 'fag lover,'" Huerter
wrote. "Many students were in (he area, but no adults. She did not report this to the
administration. When I asked her why, she said that everyone told her 'it wouldn't
do any good because they wouldn't do anything about it. "'
Some kids take refiige from bullies through their schoolwork. This wasn't a
I found rnyselfat odds with the teachers on almost everything. 1 rerrember when
we were studying the book Animal Farm, by George Orwell. The book deals with
animals that rise up against their oppressive owner and take over their own ferm From
there, they try to establish rules that give all animals equality, but the power-hungry
pigs eventually take over until, by the end of the book, they are every bit as
oppressive as the humans that cane before them
I felt that Orwell wrote the book as a criticismofsocialism. However, our teacher
at Columbine wanted us to look at it as " socialismgone wrong." She argued that the
entire book is great, up until the point where the pigs became dominant. In rr^
opinion, the point of the book is that things went wrong the moment the animals
opted for socialism, and we were being taught the exact opposite of the author's
Ideally, in a place where free exchange ofideas could happen, I could have argued
that point without fear ofrepercussions. Instead, I kept my mouth shut. I had already
been taught what happens when students went against the flow at Columbine.
On test days in n^ American Civics class, those of us who linished early were
allowed to use the rest ofthe class period for reading. One day, after I'd finished a test,
Ipulled out a copy ol'At/as Shrugged, by Ayn Rand.
The teacher approached me and picked up the book fi-omn^ desk.
" What are you doing?" I said.
" I don't like Ayn Rand," she said. " I don't want her being read in n^' classroom."
" You can't do that," I said. I was actually laughing. I couldn't believe it. " You're
going to takeaway abook in American Civics class?"
She responded that 1 was disrupting other students who were taking the test. I
just shrugged, knowing 1 wasn't going to change her mind. A few days later, I got rr^'
book back. But I never forgot. For kids who wanted to think for themselves and go
outside the lines, Coluni>ine High School was not the place to be.
Because Eric was riding the bus with me every day, we hung out quite a bit
during fi'eshman year I liked him; not only was he smart, he had a twisted sense of
humor He also had unique ways ofshowing offhis feelings.
There was a girl named Til&ny Typher who rode the bus with us, and Eric took
her to Homecoming our fi^eshman year. Unfortunately for Eric, it wound up being their
only date; she didn't want to go out with himagain after that. Eric was pretty bummed
out, because he had liked her a lot. So he decided to play a prank on her as revenge.
We decided to use some fike blood left over from Halloween to give Ti^y a
scare. As the three ofus were walking past Eric's house, I started talking to Tiffiny to
distract her while Eric set his plan in motion. Then, once he was ready, he let out a
Both ofus turned in time to see Eric lying on the ground with a bloodied rock in
his hand. His head and neck were covered in feke blood, and he was no longer
moving; it looked like he'd bashed his own head in.
For a few seconds I played along, acting all concerned for friend. Then I
couldn't hold it back anymore and I burst into laughter. Eric did too, chuckling
hysterically as he picked his bloodied selfup offthe ground. Tifeny told him that he
was extrerrely immature, and storrred offto her house. Needless to say, Eric wasn't any
closer to getting another date with her after that.
We were an obnoxious group ofkids sometimes. We liked to rebel against the
establishment, against our peers, and against our parents. We found that there was an
enjoyment to be had in doing things differently, and shocking people. Obviously I
would never cover self in feke blood today. But at the time, we saw it as a funny
way for Eric to get back at one more person who had rejected him
All ofus were finding ways to rebel, whether it was our clothes, our music, or our
attitudes. For me, it was reading. 1 would spend class tirre reading books 1 had
brought wilh mc instead ofpaying attention to the teacher. Often 1 would get yelled at
in class lor doing this, but 1 didn't care. Other kids would make ftm ofthe feet that I
carried books around wilh rre; for a while, irsy nicknarre became " Books" instead of
" Brooks," as if reading for pleasure was somehow inproper. I didn't care about that,
I was once asked in class to write something memorable about my childhood. I
wrote about the moment I first read Atlas Shrugged. I identified with the idea that
" Each man mist live for his own sake, not sacrificing others to himself or himself to
We were individuals, all ofus, and we were proud of it. Other kids tried to make
us feel ashamed for feeling diflferent. We never did. Their words hurt us, and we lived
in constant fear and hatred of our tor-menters. But we were proud of who we were.
When it came to getting through the day, that made all the diffirence.
FOR YEARS, MY PARENTS URGED ME TO FESID SOMETHING I COULD BE
passionate about. I'd always tell them that I was passionate about computers and
about books, but that never seemed to get themoffn^' back about the constant string
ofC's and D's that I brought home from Columbine.
Whenever 1 found something really interesting at school, though, I threw n^self
into it. There were two things that fit this description for me at Columbine: the theatre
program and the debate class.
My dad encouraged me to join the debate team At first it just seemed like another
class, so I thought, " Why not? " and signed up. But once I arrived, I discovered that I
loved it. I loved being able to debate in a situation where the other person can't just
say, " You're an idiot," and walk off Instead, the two ofyou have to continue until the
judges say you're finished, and then afterwards they tell you, " Okay, you were right
and you were wrong." The judges don't know either ofyou, so their decisions are
based solely on the arguments you presented.
I enjoyed that so much. When you argue with people in real life, no matter how
rational you are, generally the other person says, "Well, kiss n^ ass, I know I'm
right," and then walks offacting like he won. In debate, we actually had to prove our
Not only that, debate allowed a student to constantly improve. After a debate, the
judges will fill out a fonntelling you everything that you did or didn't do right, and
generally they will give you helpfiil hints. Also, during ir^ freshman and sophomore
years, I would approach the kids who did really well during conpetitions and ask
themfor pointers. All through high school, I did better at each tournament because of
what they taught me.
Being in debate class automatically meant I was on the debate team The
conpetitions would take place on weekends, at locations all over Colorado. My
freshman year, we took first place at the Jeffi;o Invite for Lincoln-Douglas Debates,
which was an incredible iccling.
Lincoln-Douglas debates are the perfect exercise fcr the analytic thinker. For each
issue 1 was assigned, I would have to prepare arguments for either side. I wouldn't
know which position I would have to take in the debate until two minutes before the
round. Hiat's tough, because it means that even if your personal opinion fells on one
side of an issue, you have to be able to argue the other side convincingly enough to
defeat the person who is arguing the side that you agree with. It was exciting. It
reinforced the idea that there is more than one way to think, and more than one side to
For someone like me, the debate team was a godsend. The only thing that matched
it was drama class.
1 didn't get along with most of my teachers, but it's amazing the power that a
positive, caring teacher can have. My best experience with such a teacher was Sue
Caruthers, Colunibine's drama teacher.
Mrs. Caruthers — or "Mrs. C," as we usually called her — ran the most fiilfiUing
extracurricular program I've ever been a part of There were three diferent drama
classes: Beginning Acting, Intemiediate Acting, and Advanced Acting. I entered the
classes with rr^ friend Zach Heckler, and both ofus were immediately hooked.
In drama class we learned how to design light plots, run a soundboard, or help
with set design. We also performed small scenes in class to polish our acting skills.
The idea was that students in this class would go on to participate in the Colun4)ine
theatre program, whether as actors or as tech crew members. Students would focus in
one area or another, but rrost ofus would do a little bit of everything.
The very tirst play I worked on was Get Smart, during the second semester ofn^
freshman year I played a student, and 1 had two lines. But I was also working as an
assistant stage manager, and 1 helped build the sets. I loved the program, and
participated in it all four years at Colunfcine.
Unfortunately, being an actor gave the bullies all-new ammo with which to target
Imagine seeing an attractive girl in the hallway who's in one ofyour classes, but
who you've never really had the chance to talk with. Sorrehow, you get into a
conversation with her. She seems nice, and you like her, and she's laughing and
you're starting to get hopefiil. Then a couple of football players corre around the
comer and say, " Hey, what the hell are you talking to her for, feggot? Do you actually
think you have a chance with her?" And then they pick you up and push you into a
locker, and you look like a pathetic weakling in front ofthe girl you were trying so
hard to impress.
Such things were coiimonplace at Columbine. If a guy was acting in the
Columbine drama program, he was immediately labeled a " drama feg." Not only was
he not playing sports — ^which was what all normal guys were supposed to do at
Columbine — ^but he was into that fine arts crap! Tlie bullies found whatever
weakness they could and went afier it. 1 was a wuss because I wasn't in sports. I was
gay because 1 liked theatre. Then when 1 was in debate, it was like, " Ooh, you niist
be smart, huh huh huh." Apparently, they thought calling someone " smart" was an
Columbine students quickly found their roles and stuck to them I found n^ role
in the theatre; so did Zach Heckler. And when sophomore year rolled around, Dylan
joined us. Dylan hadn't taken drama class like we had, but he had an interest in
working technical stuffbehind the scenes, so Zach showed him what to do. It didn't
take long for Dylan to become a sharp soundboard operator.
Besides theatre, though, the rest of our activities weren't so good. As freshmen
and sophomores, we were already into drinking and smoking and would get trashed
at each other's houses, or even in the light booth during plays. Dylan, in feet, earned a
nickname based on his fevorite drink: \6DkA. The name would stick for years.
While speech and drama gave me sorrKthing to sink n^ passion into, they didn't
solve the problems I was still having at school — or with m/ parents.
My grades at Columbine were as bad as — if not worse than — n^ grades from
junior high. It wasn't because I couldn't do the work. It was because I didn't do the
work. My grade point average got a boost from classes I enjoyed, like drama and
debate, where I got A's. But in some other classes, like math, I was bored out of n^'
mind and tuned things out. I did well on tests, but n^' grades still suffired because 1
didn't do the homework.
I didn't see a point in it, didn't want to waste time on the busy-work that
constituted most ofour assignments. There was no reason to do it other than earning a
grade, and I didn't care about the grade. I would only do homework if 1 thought 1
would get sonKthing out ofit.
This attitude drove n^ parents crazy. They tried everything, fromgrounding me to
speaking with n^ teachers, to trying to help me with homework. They also offered to
let me change schools, since Ihey knew I was unhappy at Colun4)ine.
Part of mc wanted to get out. The problem was that all n^' friends were at
Columbine. I didn't want to leave thembehind.
Of course, I was still very much into the punk and alternative crowd, and
parents didn't approve ofthat at all.
My parents never really understood why I hung out with some ofthe kids I did. I
tried to e3q>lain that it was because they were the most independent kids in the
However, many ofn^' friends in the punk crowd didn't come from very stable
home environments. Atew ofthemwere pretty nessed up. They would talk all the tirre
about the problems they had at home. I wanted to fit in with these guys. So 1 started
exaggerating n^ own problems. I would play up the pressure rr^ parents put on me to
get better grades. We were fighting all the time, and venting about those fights to
friends only aggravated rr^ feelings.
I felt n^ parents weren't attempting to understand me. Instead, they were trying to
" fix" me — ^to get me back to the way I was in grade school, before all ofthe crap with
CHIPS and the junior high bullies and other unpleasantness. But you can't always fix
other people. They have to fix themselves. My parents kept trying to push me back to
what they saw as the best sort ofUfe for me. When I would rebel, they would try to fix
me more, and in turn I would become even morerebellious.lt was a terrible spiral.
I would run away from home a lot, staying at my fiiends' houses in an effi)rt to
keep away fromn^ parents. I resented them for pushing rre to " buy into the systenf'
and start getting good grades, or conformto what everyone thought I should be. They
seemed to want me to play the game. 1 didn't want to do that, so I dropped out ofthe
I had m/ driver's license by the end of sophomore year, so I was one ofthe first
kids in n^ group of fiiends to have a can Obviously this made me pretty popular as a
ride-giver. My dad had given me an older car to drive, and, like a lot ofkids when they
first get their license, I treated it with no respect at all.
One time, after Vd been grounded, I lefi with the car anyway and picked up a few
oin^ fiiends. My dad came looking for me, and pulled up next to me ordering me to go
home. I refiised.
" Go home right now. Brooks!" rr^ dad shouted.
Since his car was sitting in fi"ont of mine, I threw my car into reverse and floored
the gas. 1 wound up driving backwards through our neighborhood at what I can only
describe as a ridiculous rate of speed; I'm lucky I didn't kill n^selfand everyone else
in the car. Eventually I got n^'selftumed around and sped away, and n^^ dad decided
we were going so £ist that he wasn't going to bother chasing us.
I went through a pretty rough time, where I pushed rr^ parents to the absolute
limit. Today I realize how much they must have loved me, to put up with me through
Loving, involved parents are so irrportant for a kid. I fought with parents over
some of the stupidest things. I feel really bad about that now. Because I know, today,
how much they shaped me. And in the years that would follow, they would become a
strong anchor that got me through rr^ troubles with Eric and Dylan.
Eric never followed the rest of us into the theatre, or into any serious pursuit of
extracurricular activities at Coluni>ine. He remained engrossed in his computet That
was his outlet forthe frustrations ofschool.
Eric and I were still riding the bus home together at the beginning ofsophomore
year, before I got n^ car. He lived close by, and the two ofus would go over to his
house and play video games.
One thing Eric was really into was coding levels fox Doom II. That was one ofthe
great things about Doom II. With most games, once you beat all ofthe levels, that's it;
there's nothing left to do except play the levels you've already beaten, and that can
get boring. But with Doom II, you could buy a Doom editor that would actually
allow you to design your own levels ofthe game, program them with as many enemies
as you wanted, and then play themby yourself or with friends online. It was possible
to program in your own types of enemies and your own sounds, move things around
in existing levels, or build entire new worlds fromscratch.
Eric loved the challenges the editing program presented. He loved programming
and figuring out how to do things like matching textures or de-bugging a new level.
He also liked creating challenges for his friends to beat. So when he created a new
level, he'd invite me over to his house to give it a try.
I never built a Doom level n^f sel^ but Eric and I would sit around brainstorming
ideas for them It took a considerable amount of time to build a new Doom level from
scratch, and even more time to work the bugs out.
Eric's early levels were small, like the ones he designed for "death-matching."
These levels didn't have any conputer-controlled monsters running around; they
were basically enpty rooms with weapons hidden everywhere. Eric would get online
with his computer, and Dylan or somebody else would log on with theirs, and the
two players would enter this level and hunt each other down. Every time one player
killed the other, it counted as one point. The first player to get ten points, or twenty.
depending on how the scorekeeping was set up, won the match.
He'd ofien get creative; one level, called "Hockey," was just that— opponents
would chase each other down inside a hockey arena, complete with ice that your
character would slide across if he walked on it. Another deathmatch level was based
on Mortal Kombat, where there were no weapons and the two players would have to
punch each other to death. Another level, which Eric simply called " Deathmatch in
Bricks," was a giant room with sweeping staircases, spikes, dark caves, a flowing
river, and a maze. On the walls ofthe level, Eric had pasted in his own e-mail address,
so that if the level got traded to other players online, they could write to him with
However, as Eric's design skills inproved, so did the conplexity ofhis levels. By
sophon»re year, he showed me a conplex two-level adventure called "UAC Labs."
Unlike the deathmatch levels, " UAC Labs" was a one-player challenge that involved
fighting through a massive conplex loaded with demons and enen^ soldiers. In
addition to designing the map ofthe level itself Eric had reprogrammed a few features
ofthe characters; I'm pretty sure that for one in particular he had sanpled in the
booming shriek ofthe monster Ifomthe movie Predator.
After the attack on Columbine, plenty of" experts" took aim at Doom and other
gmnes as "training ground" fcr Eric and Dylan. So there were a lot of people who
wanted to get hold ofthe levels Eric designed, to see ifthere was any foreshadowing
ofthe shootings to be found in them.
In truth, there really wasn't. Many ofEric's levels were based on science liclion
ideas. Here's the description of" UAC Labs" in the text file that went with the level:
After defeating the demons on Earth, you learn of a new terror.
Phohos, where this hellish battle all began, has been taken over again!
When you were fighting hell on Earth, the demon back-up crew decided
to pay a visit to Phohos again. No problem, right? All the installations
were already destroyed by you and the first attack right? Yeah, that parts
[sic] right, but half the surviving humans from earth took refuge therel
We just re-did the structures to fit our needs, and moved in again. Bad
idea. Those gates were still active. Sooo aah, chalk up another kill for the
demons. After the 2nd attack on Phobos, only 99% of the human
population is left. Once you emerged from hell, you took the first ship
you could to Phobos. Once again, there were no survivors. Now it's
PAYBACK TIME! Those goddamned alien bastards are gonna get one
helluva BFG blast up ihc'ir FREAKIN ASS! Yon land on the other side of
Phobos. Where the humans landed for the 2nd time. Your mission is to
destroy the 2 main gates, and destroy the platoon of demons at the main
teleporter from Phobos to Earth. Use the maps, you'll need them to find
all the hidden secrets and doors. Beware of the 2 gates, thefy] ARE still
active, and more demons might come through any second. The platoon
guarding the teleporterout is VERY large, so beware. Good luck marine,
and don 't forget, KILL 'EM AAAAAL-LLL! ! ! ! !
After the attack on Columbine, there were some Doom players who reviewed
"UAC Labs" because of its notoriety. They criticized the hell out of the level —
particularly the ending, where over a hundred difeent enemies come out of the walls
siiffliltaneously. "I'm not sure 5,000 rounds would be enough, let alone 500,"
groused one reviewer as he gave a walk-through ofthe level. Another reviewer on the
" Realm of Chaos" Doom site said Eric had " flagrantly exceeded" the " Thing Limit."
What these reviewers tailed to understand is that Eric didn't care about their
rules. He made up his own. Doom was an escape fcr himinto a world he understood;
it was a reality fer preferable to the miserable existence of school. Eric fcund hiiiBelf
truly at home there.
Hie bullying at Colun4>ine continued, but during sophomore year, several ofus
got to know a group of" outcasts" at school who had found a way to fight back.
They were commonly known as the Trench Coat Mafia.
I cringe to use that term today, because it has such a stigma attached to it. In the
initial days after the Columbine massacre, several TV news shows latched onto the
idea ofthe " Trench Coat Mafia" like it was some sort of cult. Stories implied that the
Trench Coat Mafia was a national organization, or that it had ties with the Neo-Nazi
movement. To this day, references are made to the Trench Coat Mafia; I even heard the
termused on the HBO show Six Feet Undernot too long ago.
In reality, the Trench Coat Mafia was nothing more than a group of ffiends who
hung out together, wore black trench coats, and prided themselves on being diffirent
Even the trench coats were more ofan accidental thing than any sort of" uniform"
The mother of one ofits menbers. Tad Boles, bought a black coat for himas a present
when she saw one on sale. Once he started wearing it, his fiiend followed suit
because they liked the look.
While sitting at lunch one day, a few of the athletes were doing their usual
routine, making fiin of the kids they didn't like. They saw this group of kids sitting
together, all wearing black trench coats, on a day when temperatures were in the
eighty-degree range. One guy commented that with the trench coats, the group of
" outcasts" looked like some sort of" mafia."
" Yeah, like a trench coat mafia," said another.
The termwas supposed to be an Insult. Instead, the group entraced it as abadge
ofpride. They were the outcasts, and, rather than be ashamed of it, they were proud of
it. In feet, they wanted to fight back against their antagonists.
That was the flaw ofthe Trench Coat Mafia. They prided themselves on being the
opposite ofthe jocks, but they weren't. All they did was spread even more hate. Just
as the jocks would make fiin of and belittle anyone who was di:ferent fi-omtheni, so
would the Trench Coat Mafia. They would just do it in the opposite direction. Jocks
would beat the shit out ofthemand laugh, and then the Trench Coat Mafia would go
beat the shit out of some preps, "fhcy were lillcd with so nuich hate for the jocks and
the bullies of Columbine that they allowed themselves to turn into the very thing
That's not to say that the Trench Coat Mafia was made up of bad guys. They were a
pretty diverse lot, and that made for some interesting conversation. Some were
Wiccans, some were Satanists, some didn't proclaim any feith whatsoever. I sat with
them at lunch a few times, and they were very accepting of me. It was the jocks they
The feeling was mutual. Jocks would call the girls who hung out with the Trench
Coat Mafia " sluts" and "Nazi lesbians." One day at lunch the jocks threw a bag fiiU
of ice water on a menier ofthe group, which led to a fight outside. When security
intervened, the Trench Coat Mafia kids wound up with three-day suspensions. The
jocks who had started the fight were never even sent to the office.
Even so, the Trench Coat Mafia had chosen to take a stand against the bullying at
Columbine. Most of them had already graduated and moved on by the time n^ senior
year arrived. But their actions— and their acceptance — made an inpression on Eric
and Dylan. For the first time, they were seeing a group ofoutcasts who weren't tjJcing
the bullying lying down. For once they were seeing kids who dished it right back.
Neither ofthemwould forget that lesson.
One menier ofthe Trench Coat Mafia, Chris Morris, had taken a particular liking
to Eric. Chris had a job working at Blackjack Pizza, a restaurant just a few blocks
south of Columbine, near the Cooper 7 Theater. He urged Eric to apply there near the
end ofsophomore year; Dylan soon fcllowed suit.
It was during their time at Blackjack Pizza that Eric and Dylan really started to
become close. Before that, we had all been one big group offriends. Now, though, Eric
and Dylan were forming a bond that was nuch stronger than what they had with the
Eiiployees at Blackjack Pizza had a fiin way to pass the slower hours at work:
setting offdry ice bombs outside the store. They would get the dry ice fromBaskin
Robbins and make crude " bombs" by placing a construction-zone cone over the ice,
letting pressure build up and seeing how high they could shoot the cone into the air.
However, Eric and Dylan were introduced to fer more powerfiil ej^losives that
summer At some point, they discovered recipes on the Internet for building pipe
bombs using ordinary PVC pipe and powder from leftover fireworks. In a police
interview conducted after the Columbine massacre, the forrrer owner of Blackjack
Pizza recalled one of them bringing a pipe bomb to work one day and showing it off
to other enployees . The owner immediately told himto get rid of it.
For Eric, pipe bonibs were a whole new adventure, a way ofplaying God that was
fer more exciting than the virtual reality of Doom. This wasn't just a game anymore.
These ejq^losives were the real thing.
Early in junior year, n"^ little brother and I were playing around on the conputer.
Zach Heckler had come over, and the three ofus were hunched over the monitor with a
new programwhen we heard a knocking on the window glass.
I looked at n^ watch. It was nearly three o'clock in the nwming. Yet there,
crouching oulsidc, were Eric and Dylan, dressed conpletely in black and carrying a
backpack. I couldn't believe it. We let them in, and they sat down and told us how
they had snuck out and were " carrying out missions" in the neighborhood.
By now, Eric and Dylan had clearly bonded much more strongly with each other
than with the rest ofus. Working together at Blackjack Pizza, they had developed a
lot of nutual interests that they hadn't shared before. Eric — ^who took German at
Coluniine and spoke it feirly well — ^had discovered Rammstein, a German metal band,
and he and Dylan became fens. That fell, Eric had started wearing black, just like the
Trench Coat Mafia. It wouldn't be long before Dylan adopted a similar attire.
Brooks's junior year was also Aaron Brown's freshman year. He hadn't seen
Dylan around in sometime, and it was a shock the first time he saw him in the halls
"He looked like a totally different person," Aaron said. "I was like, 'Brooks, is
that Dylan? 'I couldn't believe it. He was a lot taller than the last time I'd seen him.
He was dressed in all black, looking down, kind of sad. He just had this attitude
about him~you could tell that he was very unhappy. He wasn't being accepted at
At first I didn't find Dylan's behavior that strange. It just seemed like he was
finding a new side to himself In feet, it was sort ofinteresting to see Dylan rebelling
— like me, I thought. It seerred to be good for him; he was becoming more assertive. I
didn't share his interest in Rammstein — I thought their music was pretty one-
dimensional and lame — but it struck me that perhaps the changes in Eric and Dylan
I knew nothing of their pipe bon4) building. They never told me about it. They
did, however, tell me ofsome ofthe " Rebel Missions" they were starting to undertake
in the neighborhood.
"The Rebels" is the name ofthe Columbine sports teams. Eric had adopted the
name to describe not only hiinself — he now went by the nicknarre " REB" both online
and at work — but also the acts of' revenge" that he and Dylan had begun to perform.
Eric had spray paint cans and superglue, and he told us how he and Dylan would
sneak over to people's houses and vandalize them, because the person had said or
done something at school that had pissed them off Perhaps Eric and Dylan would
glue someone's doors shut, or write words on their front lawn. They did these acts not
as Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, but as REB and \6DkA, the Rebels.
I think the story that got rre the most was the one they told about Halloween of
junior year That night, the two ofthemwent up on the roofwith a BB gun and took
shots at little kids who were trick-or-treating. Tliey said the kids would look around,
all conliised at what had hit them, but because Eric and Dylan were concealed in the
darkness ofthe roo^ they never knew. They told us about this over lunch, laughing
like it was the fiinniest joke in the world.
The first few tirres 1 heard stories like that, I laughed, too — out of shock, not
pleasure. After a while, I couldn't even laugh anymore. The Halloween story really
bugged me. Even if someone could see the humor in pulling missions of revenge on
the houses ofpeople who acted like jerks at school, taking pot-shots at little kids on
Halloween is just plain sick.
But Eric and Dylan didn't feel the need to e3q>lain their behavior. Hiey were angry
with the world, and that anger was beginning to show.
IT DIDN'T T\KE MUCH ANYMORE TO SET ERIC OPE BY THE WINTER OF
junior year, I would learn that lesson firsthand.
It wasn't some massive fight that drove Eric and me apart, or a prank that got out
ofhand. Eric decided that he hated me because I didn't give hima ride to school.
When Eric was a fieshman, he got rides fi'omhis older brother whenever he could.
Now that Kevin had graduated and gone offto college, Eric was back to riding the
bus all the time, because he still didn't have his driver's license. So he had started
riding along with me instead.
I had become friends with a guy naned Trevor Dolac through the Colunt>ine
debate program He and I would alternate driving to school. One week, I would drive
on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday while Trevor took Tuesday and Thursday. The
next week, we would switch. Eric simply rode along.
However, as anyone who knows me will attest, I'mnot exactly punctual. Since 1
didn't care that mich about school, I'd oversleep or dawdle around in the mornings,
which meant that I was almost always running ten minutes behind. Trevor never got
too annoyed about it, but it drove Eric crazy. Every morning, for the entire drive to
Colun4)ine, all I'd hear was Eric complaining about how I needed to get n^ shit
One morning, I overslept again. Trevor called me, wondering where I was.
" Sorry, man," I said. " I'll be right over."
As I got dressed, the phone rang again. This time it was Eric. I knew what he was
going to say before I even picked up.
I didn't need this, 1 thought. Alter all, 1 wasn't asking Eric to pitch in gas money. 1
was late all the time and by now, Eric knew it. He still chose to ask for rides from me
anyway, right? So he knew what he was getting. I told him I was running late. I
suggested that he find another ride.
Unfortunately for Eric, the bus had already left. He was pretty pissed offabout it,
and he started yelling at me over the phone about what a dick I was. I let himyell for a
little while, then hung up.
A few minutes later I was at Trevor's house. " Eric's being a little bitch," I said as
Trevor got in the car. " We're not picking him up today. We're just going straight to
We headed out ofour neighborhood toward Pierce Street. A £inriliar truck pulled
out right in front ofus. Eric had enlisted his dad to give hima ride.
When Mr. Harris saw our car, he pulled over and we followed suit. Eric got out of
his dad's truck and climbed into rr^ backseat.
"You asshole!'" he said. " I'm ten flicking minutes late already! My dad's pissed
offat me. I can't rely on you for anything!"
I'd had enough. I turned around in rr^ seat and stared hard at him. "Dude, that's
it. I don't need this shit every morning. I'mnot giving you rides to school anymore."
We arrived at school and went our separate ways. Usually, ifl drove everyone to
school in the morning, I provided a ride home as well. But that afternoon, Trevor and I
took offfromschool without Eric. We never gave himanother ride after that.
The next time Eric saw me at school, he refiised to acknowledge me; I'd pass him
in the hallways and say, " Hey, Eric," and he'd just glare. Once I realized that he was
going to make an issue of what had happened, I became so annoyed that I stopped
talking to him, too.
I heard through n^ other friends that Eric was talking shit about me. For the most
part, I shrugged it off However, it did concern me when I heard that Eric wanted to
mess with n^ cat
I told n^' parents what was going on. It didn't surprise n^ mom that much. She
had already developed a distrust ofEric Harris.
"Eric held grudges and he never let them go," Judy Brown said. "It was not
normal behavior for boys. Boys usually speak up, say what they have to say, and
that's that. "
Initially. Randy and Judy Brown liked Eric, because he seemed like the most
clean-cut of Brooks's friends. Most of them dressed and acted like typical members
of the punk or alternative scene. Eric, by contrast, looked almost preppy.
"My main impression ofEric was driving down Elnihurst and seeing him in the
window of his study every night, every time we drove by, on the computer," said
Randy Brown. "The Harris 's study is in the front of the house, and every time I went
by, he was there. It was uncanny.
"You have to remember, too, that we were much more naive then than we are
now, " Randy continued. "The things that would now be considered red flags . . . at
the time we just excused as 'teenage behavior. ' "
The first time Judy Brown suspected something amiss was when Brooks came
home and told her that Eric was refusing to speak to her son Aaron. Aaron had
made a comment to Eric along the lines of "Hey, man, get a life; you're on the
computer too much. "It was meant as gentle ribbing, hut Eric didn 't take it that way.
"Brooks said that Eric now hated Aaron, " .Judy recalls. "I said, 'You 've got to
be kidding. Can 't you smooth it over? 'And Brooks said, 'No way, Mom. There's no
smoothing it over. He won 't change his mind. "
The next time Judy became concerned about Eric Harris was after Brooks and
Eric had quarreled over rides to school. Brooks came home and said he'd heard
that Eric was looking to damage his car in some way for revenge.
"I remembered how Eric had held a grudge toward Aaron before," Judy said. "I
knew he wasn't going to let this one go either"
Shortly after Eric and I had our felling-out, Eric figured out a way to get two of
his enemies with one shot. He and Dylan plotted a new "Rebel Mission" against
Eric had decided he didn't like the way Nick laughed. It was ridiculous, but no
more ridiculous than choosing to hate n:^ brother for telling him to get off the
conputer, or hating me because I didn't want to drive him to school anymore. The
same " clownish" traits that had made us laugh so hard at Nick's antics in the library
during freshman year now had Eric hating himwith a passion. Go figure.
Dylan and Nick had never been great fiiends, not even in grade school, and I
imagine it wasn't hard fi)r Eric to convince himto help with theplan.
Dressed in their usual black "mission clothes," Eric and Dylan crept over to
Nick's house late one night. They put superglue in all ofhis door locks, then tried to
set fire to all ofthe plants and bushes outside.
Then, the next day, Eric went up lo Nick and said, '"Man, I'm sorry about your
house. I was talking to sorre people and I heard that Brooks did it."
Nick went home and told his mom, and she went offthe wall about it. So rr^ mom
called her to ej^lain that I couldn't have been involved.
For the first time, n^ parents' strict demands on me regarding school were about
to pay off Because I hadn't been doing a lot of n^' school-work, n^ teachers had
begun sending a card home with me every week that indicated whether or not I had
That week, I'd missed some assignments, so I didn't have the card. My parents and
I had a big fight, and I wound up grounded. I lost car privileges and had to stay at
home every night. As it turned out, one of those nights was the night that Nick's
house was hit.
" I can guarantee you that Brooks didn't do it," n^ momtold Mrs. Baun^art.
" Because he was here at home, grounded." Based on that, it was pretty easy to
figure out who the true culprit was. IfEric had been angry with me before, now he was
A few weeks afier Eric and I stopped talking to each other, Trevor and I happened
to be driving home from school in separate cars. Trevor was driving his car ahead of
me when we pulled up to the stop sign near rr^ house.
The spot was right next to the bus stop. Eric, who was riding the bus again, was
throwing snowballs with other kids fromschool.
When Eric saw Trevor, he picked up a chunk of ice from where it forms over the
guttec He threw it as hard as he could at Trevor's car, denting the trunk. Then,
without missing a beat, he picked up another chunk of ice and threw it at n^ car.
The ice smashed into n^ windshield; I heard it crack. It wasn't a large chip, but
enough to make one ofthose little spider webs around it.
I was livid. I slamrred on the brakes and leaned out ofthe car, yelling, " Fuck you!
Fuck you, Eric! You're gonna pay to fix this!"
Eric laughed at me. "Kiss rr^ ass, Brooks! 1 ain't paying for shit!"
1 floored the gas down the remaining few blocks to my parents' house, went in
and told n^ mom exactly what had happened. Then — seeing red — I went straight to
Eric's place to talk to his parents.
I hammered on their front door, still forious. All I could think of was getting back
at Eric. Mrs. Harris answered, and I glared at her. "I've got something to tell you
about your son," I said.
She looked back at nK, a little confijsed. " Okay . . ." She asked me to come in.
We sat down in her living room, and 1 told her everything Eric had been doing in
the past few months. "Your son's been sneaking out at night," I said. "He's going
around vandalizing things. He's threatened people. And just now he broke
She didn't seem to believe me. She kept asking me to calm down. That only made
" He's got liquor in his room," I said. " Search it. He's got spray paint cans in his
room Search it. Eric's fiicked up, and you need to know about it. I'm getting out of
here before he gets back, because Fmnot gonna deal with himright now."
Mrs. Harris wanted me to stay, to sit down and talk with Eric about this, as ifwe
were in the school counselor's office or something. I shook rny head. " I'm gone," I
said as I got back in the car to go home.
As it turned out, Trevor had gone on his own mission of sorts. When I went to
the Harrises' house, he drove back to the bus stop, where Eric and his friends had all
lefi their backpacks while they continued their snowball fight. Trevor pulled up,
grabbed Eric's bag, threw it in his car, and took offback to house.
My momdecided that we were going to confront Eric. Once I got home, the three
ofus got in her car; n^ msmwas driving, I was in the passenger seat, and Trevor sat in
We drove back down the street to the bus stop. As we pulled up, my momrolled
down her window and called for Eric to come over.
"I said to the kids, 'Lock the doors. I'm just going to unroll the window a crack, '
Judy Brown recalled. "And theydld. and Isaid, Eric, I've got your backpack and I'm
taking it over to your mom 'v. Meet us over there. "
Eric's response shocked all three of them. His face turned bright red, and
suddenly he began shrieking and pounding on the car, pulling as hard as he could
on the door handle. He screamed at them to let him in.
No one, not even Brooks, had seen Eric act like this before.
"He just went crazy, " Judy Brown said. '7 started to pull away slowly, and he
wouldn 't let go. I said, 'Back away from the car. We'll meet you at your mom 's. 'He
didn't listen. He just kept screaming, 'Give me my backpack! ' Trevor moved over to
the other side of the car, away from him. We were all scared. "
Judy drove to Eric's house; Kathy Harris was standing in the driveway. Judy got
out of the car and gave the backpack to her, explaining what had happened to
"Normally a kid throwing a snowball at a car wouldn't upset me that much,"
Judy said. "I understand that kids can get carried away But because we had heard
he was going to do something to vandalize Brooks's car, it made me think this was
on purpose. "
Kathy Harris's eyes began to well up with tears. Judy immediately became
sympathetic. She remembers Kathy Harris as being "very sweet, a very nice lady. "
At the time. Judy didn 't think much of Eric's bag; she had no idea that Eric was
already building pipe bombs at that time, or that his journal contained entries
about how much he hated school.
"To this day, I wonder what might have been in that bag, " she says.
Later that evening, Kathy Harris called Judy at home to discuss the matter
further. According to Judy, Kathy wanted to listen, but her husband, Wayne, kept
saying that Eric didn 't mean it.
"He said, 'This is just kids 'stuff. The truth is, Eric's afraid of you. 'I said, 'Look,
your son isn't afraid of me — he came after me at my car 'And he said, 'My son said
that he is afraid of you.' He didn't want to hear that his son had done anything
My mom told us about her phone call with the Harrises, and we sat around
talking about it in our living room By now n^ dad was horre from work, so we
brought him up to speed on the situation. 1 told n^ parents about the other things
Eric had been doing, and Aaron backed me up, because he knew about ii as well.
I was still seething. It helped a little to know that my parents were on rry side,
and that Eric's parents were dealing with him at the same moment. Nonetheless, I felt
so mich anger that night. I was used to getting shit from the bullies. I didn't ej^ect it
frompeoplelused to call n^' friends.
Hie next day at school, I heard through n^^ friends that Eric was still angry. My
friends didn't tell me specifics, but they said Eric was threatening me. I went home and
told rr^ mom, who called the police. An officer came to our house, and we talked to
himat length about what was going on.
My momdescribed the windshield incident. " He thinks he got away with it," she
told the officer. "Please, just go over there and let him know that he didn't." The
officer was sympathetic to the situation. He told us he understood how upsetting a
bully could be. He said he would pay a visit to the Harris home, only a few blocks
away, and have a chat with them in an effi)rt to rattle Eric a little.
I'm guessing that he must have done just that, because later that night, we got
another phone call from the Harrises. This time, it was Mr. Harris, letting us know that
he was bringing Eric over to our house to apologize.
My mom took Aaron and me aside. " I want both ofyou in the back bedrooin, and
don't come out," she said. We went, and we listened at the door as Eric came in.
"Eric came over and stood in our doorway, and he Just had this fake tone to his
voice," Judy said." 'Mrs. Brown, I didn't mean any harm, and you know I would
never do anything to hurt Brooks I let him finish, but I could see right through the
act. And then I said, 'You know, Eric, you can pull the wool over your dad's eyes, but
you can 't pull the wool over my eyes. '
"That seemed to surprise him. He said, 'Areyou calling me a liar? ' I remember
that specifically. And I said, 'Yes, I am. And if you ever come up our street, or if you
ever do anything to Brooks again — ;*/'/ ever even see you on our street again — I'm
calling the police.
Eric was shocked by Judy's words. He didn't say anything further; he just
turned and stormed out to his father, who was waiting in the car.
"I don 't think anyone had ever confronted him like that before, " Judy said. "I
think he was amazed that I didn't just go, 'It's okay, Eric. Yes.' Maybe he had gotten
away with it for so long, manipulating people that way, that he was stunned when it
didn't work. "
Eric hadn't counted on mother's attitude. He couldn't believe what she'd said
At least, that's what I heard from people around school, since Eric and I weren't
Dylan tried to make peace between us, but he always lailed. Eric wanted nothing
to do with me, and after what had happened to n^ windshield, 1 felt the same way
toward him Dylan and I would still go out to have cigarettes together, and Eric
would refiise to go along because I was there. Sometimes I would go visit Dylan
while he was working at Blackjack Pizza, and then Eric would show up and I would
have to leave. I wished I could do something to improve the situation. But if that
rreant talking to Eric again, I refiised. I was too angry.
However, I had no idea that, in the privacy ofhis study, Eric was quietly plotting
the web pages
IN MARCH OF 1998, 1 WAS WALKING TO CLASS WHEN DYLAN approached
me with a small piece ofpaper. On it was written the address fcr a Web site.
" I think you should take a look at this tonight," Dylan said.
I shrugged. "Okay. Anything special?" I figured at the time that it was the
address fcr some new programDylan had uncovered.
" It's Eric's Web site," he said. " You need to see it. And you can't tell Eric I gave
it to you."
I nodded. " All right."
That night I logged on for the first time. Sure enough, it was Eric's page; I
recognized the more femiliar features, like the "Jo Momma" joke section; all of us
would sit around and tell those. "Jo Momma" jokes are a takeoff of the traditional
momma joke, only they're made to be deliberately bad. The humor came from seeing
just how lame you could make them We'd say things like, "Jo Momma is so poor she
lives in a two-story Dorito bag." " Jo Momma is so fet she uses a Greyhound bus for
roller blades." "Jo Momma is so dumb that she has seven extra fingers and two extra
toes and she still can't count to 29."
However, Eric had several pages that clearly were not meant as a joke. They were
brutal, savage attacks on everything he hated about the world. One ofthemhad to do
with me. Eric had written:
My belief is that if I say something, it goes. I am the law, if you don't
like it, you die. If I don 't like you or I don 't like what you want me to do,
you die. If I do something incorrect, oh fucking well, you die. Dead people
can't do many things like argue, whine, bitch, complain, narc, rat out,
criticize, or even fucking talk. So that's the only way to solve arguments
with all you fuck-heads out I here. ! just kill! God I can 't wait till ! can kill
you people. I'll just go to some downtown area in some big-ass city and
blow up and shoot everything I can. Feel no remorse, no sense of shame.
Ich sage FICT TU! I will rig up explosives all over a town and detonate
each one of them at will after I mow down a whole fucking area full of
you snotty ass rich mother fucking high strung godlike attitude having
worthless piece of shit whores. I don 't care if I live or die in the shootout,
all I want to do is to kill and injure as many of you pricks as I can,
especially a few people. Like Brooks Brown.
I sat there staring at the screen for a moment. It was une?q)ected, to say the least.
On another page, Eric had posted phone nunier, along with a specific list of
everything he hated about me. On yet another, he encouraged would-be killers to
seek me out, and promised a reward for n^r head.
Eric had an entire three-page document dedicated to the building ofpipe bonfcs.
He gave specific instructions on what ingredients to use, along with updates on his
own progress. He described the bombs he'd already built, and the successfol
detonation oTone orihem. Tlie entry read:
Mother fucker blew BIG. Pazzie was a complete success and it blew
dee fuck outa a little creek bed. Flipping thing was heartpounding gut-
wrenching brain-twitching ground-moving insanely cool! His brothers
haven 't found a target yet though.
Atlanta, Phobus, Peltro, and Pazzie are complete, for those of who
[sic] that don't know what they are, they are the first 4 true pipe bombs
created entirely from scratch by the rebels REB and VoDkA. Atlanta and
Phobus are each 1 1/4" by 6" pipes, Peltro is 1 " by 6", and Pazzie is 3/4"
by 5". Each is packed with powder that we got from fountains, mortar
shells, and cracker-ing balls. Each also has a 14" mortar shell type fuse.
Now our only problem is to find the place that will be "ground zero. "
Eric had posted detailed descriptions ofthe " Rebel Missions" he and Dylan had
carried out in the neighborhood. In this exanple, they set offfirecrackers outside the
house ofthe person they had targeted for the evening:
Awwwwyeya. This mission was so fuckin fun man. OK, first of all, my
dad was the only parent home, so it was much easier getting out. . . but
still hard since all those rocks in my backyard make so much noise . . .
We watched as some lights in the Target's house went on, then off.
Maybe the bastard heard something. But when the (firecracker) strip
started, he turned his bedroom lights off. The strip lasted for about 30
seconds . . .we think . . .It was very fucking long. Almost all of it went off.
loud and bright. Everything worked exactly how we wanted it to. After
about 15 minutes we started down the bike trail to the next target. The
first target's lights were on again in the bedroom, but we think we got
away undetected. While we were walking to the next target, we shot some
stuff. Heh, VoDkA brought his sawed off BB gun and a few SB's, too. So
we loaded it. pumped it, and fired it off a few shots at some houses and
trees and stuff. We probably didn 'f do any damage to any houses, hut we
aren't sure . . .
. . . Ok people, I'm gonna let you in on the big secret of our clan. We
ain't no god damn stupid ass quake clan! We are more of a gang. We
plan out and execute missions. Anyone pisses us off, we do a little deed to
their house. Eggs, [TP] , superglue, busyhoxes, large amounts of
fireworks, you name it and we will probably or already have done it. We
have many enemies in our school, therefore we make many missions. It is
sort of a nighttime tradition for us.
Based on the Web site, however, it seemed clear that these "Rebel Missions"
weren't going to satisfy Eric for much longer Writing, " I live in Denver and would
love to kill all its residents." Eric offered one final warning to his readers:
Well all you people out there can fust kiss my ass and die. From now
on, I don 't give a fuck what almost any of you mutha fuckas have to say,
unless I respect you which is highly unlikely, but for those of you who
happen to know me and know that I respect you, may peace be with you
and don 't be in my line of fire. For the rest of you, you all better fucking
hide in your house because im comin [sic] for EVERYONE soon, and I
WILL be armed to the fuckiu teeth and I WILL shoot to kill and I WILL
fucking KILL EVERYTHING '. No I am not crazy, crazy is just a word, to
me it has no meaning, everyone is different, but most of you fuckheads
out there in society, going to your everyday fucking Jobs and doing your
everyday routine shitty things, I say fuck you and die. If you got a
problem with my thoughts, come tell me and I'll kill you, because . . . god
damnit, DEAD PEOPLE DON'T ARGUE!
I'd seen enough. I told n^ parents.
"This was not a little kid's joke," said Randy Brown of Eric Harris's Web
pages. "Threats against everybody, wanting to kill everybody, the violence of it all.
And then there was his specific threat against Brooks. Ididn 't know anything about
threat assessment at the time — we'd never even heard the words before — but those
are certainly signs that we know now of serious threats. "
Brooks and his parents got into a heated argument over what to do next. Randy
wanted to go to the Harrises and tell them. He suggested faxing the pages to Mr.
Harris anonymously. But Judy Brown objected. She said Mr Harris had done
nothing about the windshield incident; he hadn't even offered to pay for the
The family eventually agreed to call the police. That night, Deputy Miller of the
Jefferson County Sheriff's Department came to the Brown home to look at the pages
for himself It was March 18, 1998.
Randy Brown handed over printed copies of the Web pages to Miller, and
explained his family's past troubles with Eric. They discussed the pipe bombs and
Eric's desire to kill more people. Most of all. Randy expressed his concern for
Judy and Randy gave Dylan Klebold's name to Miller as well, because he and
Eric were such close friends — and Dylan had been mentioned on the site as being
part of the "Rebel Missions. " However, Brooks had not told his parents that Dylan
was the one who gave him the Web site address in the first place.
I never told parents that I got the address fromDylan until after the shootings.
I was worried that ifl did, Eric would find out, and then Dylan would be in trouble
with himfcr having warned me. I simply told ra^ parents that a fiiend had given it to
me, and that ifEric ever found out who, he would hurt him
In truth, I don't know what Dylan's motives were for giving me that Web site.
Maybe he was trying to warn me. Maybe he thought the site was fiinny, and just
didn't take it as seriously as I did.
Or maybe Eric did want himto give the address to me. Maybe Dylan was in on it,
and both ofthemwanted to send me a scare. I didn't know.
I have no doubt that Dylan knew exactly what was on that Web site when he
gave me the address. He might not have been posting things on it himself but at the
very least, Eric was keeping himup to speed. So I was afraid to go back to him and
I was afraid to call the police at first, too. In n^' dealings at Columbine, I had
learned that ifyou report someone, nothing gets done — and then the person finds out
who reported him and makes that person's life that much worse. At Columbine, ifyou
got into a fight with someone and you were scared ofhim, you might mention this to
the administration; the administration would then bring both of you into a
" counseling session" to try to work things out. That didn't work. So I feared calling
the police, but at the same tirre, 1 knew sorrething needed to be done.
My parents did their best to explain to the officer about the Web pages, the
references to Doom, and other conputer terms. The officer admitted that he knew little
about conputers, but told us that there were others at the station who would
The officer seemed very sympathetic to me. He could tell that the whole situation
had really freaked me out, and he told me a little about his own e?^eriences with
bullies in an effi)rt to make me feel better He also promised us that the situation would
be investigated further
A week or so later, n^ parents phoned the police station to follow up on their
conplaint. They made an appointment to see Detective John Hicks on March 3 1 .
"We actually went over there twice, " Judy Brown said. "They couldn 't find the
Web pages the first time, so we printed out new copies and went a second time. The
minute he saw them, he said, 'I have only seen one or two like this. This is serious. '
His demeanor immediately changed when he started to read it. "
According to the. Browns. Detective Hicks brought in two members of the bomb
squad to explain to the Browns how to spot a pipe bomb. He also asked the bomb
squad to check if there had been any reports of bombs being set off in the area.
When they looked into it, the answer was that yes, there was activity.
The Browns say Detective Hi ck-i warned them that there might not be enough in
the pages to legally accuse Eric of a threat against Brooks. The wording read, "I
want to kill and maim . . . especially a few people . . . LIKE Brooks Brown. "
"He wasn't sure if that wording was going to be good enough to go for
everything, " Randy explained. "But he added, 'I've certainly got him for the pipe
bomb building and the detonating. 'So we knew they had him for at least something.
There was no point during that meeting that we didn 't think they were going to get
"That's why it was such a shock when the attack on Columbine happened, and
we found out that nothing had been done. "
A few days after ir^ parents went to see the police, the word around school was
that Eric and Dylan had gotten in big trouble over something. No one knew what it
was; Eric and Dylan wouldn't talk about it. But we heard that both ofthemwere in
I came home and told n^' parents. My dad had a big look of relief on his £ice.
" That's it," he said. " Ihey did their job."
My mam asked me if I could find out what specifically they were in trouble fer,
and I said there was no way; they were keeping it quiet.
" But Mom, it's big," 1 said. " Everybody is talking about it."
It only made sense to think that the counseling was for the pipe boni> building
and the hate, and everything else that was on Eric's Web site.
What the Browns didn't know was that in reality, Eric and Dylan had just
experienced their day in court for a van break-in that had happened at the end of
On January 30, 1998, Eric and Dylan were hanging out together in a parking
lot near Deer Creek Canyon Road. They were parked next to a van loaded with
various pieces of electrical equipment.
At first, Eric and Dylan were just killing time, breaking bottles and lighting a
few small fireworks. Yet their attention was drawn to the van. When they realized
that no one was around, they decided to force their way into it. While Eric kept
watch from inside his car, Dylan smashed in the van's window with a rock and
began unloading equipment.
Once they had filled up the back seat of Eric's new Honda Prelude — Eric's
parents had given him a car now that he finally had his driver's license — the two
took off and pulled over a few miles away to check out what they had stolen.
Officer Tim Walsh of the Jefferson County Sheriffs Office was on routine
patrol in the area. He noticed the two boys and parked his car a short distance
away to observe them. After about five minutes, he approached, shone a flashlight
into Eric's face, and asked him what they were doing.
At first, Eric and Dylan claimed they had found the equipment stacked up on
the side of the road. When Walsh made it clear thai he didn't believe that story, they
cracked. The boys admitted what they had done, and Walsh took them into custody
Their parents were furious. Eric and Dylan received significant grounding as
punishment. However, both of their fathers backed them up when they appeared
before Jefferson County Magistrate John DeVita in early April of 1998.
"This has been a rather traumatic experience, and I think it's probably good...
that they got caught the first time, " Tom Klebold told DeVita.
Eric and Dylan were sentenced to one year in a juvenile diversion program,
where they would be forced to undergo four days of classes dealing with anger
management and drunk driving, 45 hours of community service, multiple fines, and
counseling. They received this sentence the same week that the Browns met with
Detective Hicks at the Jefferson County Sheriff s Office.
According to the Browns, when Detective Hicks ran a search for prior offenses
on Eric Harris, the report of the break-in came up. However, the Browns did not
learn that Dylan had been involved in the break-in as well. So when Brooks came
home and said that both Eric and Dylan were in trouble, they had no reason to
suspect anything other than the Web pages.
As for Eric, he offered two completely different perspectives on the incident. In
a school essay he wrote on November 18, 1998, he described the incident to his
After a very unique experience in a real live police station being a real
live criminal, I had lots of time to think about what I did. ... As I waited, I
cried, I hurt, and I felt like hell . . . My parents lost all respect and trust in
me and I am still slowly regaining it. That ej^erience showed me that no
matter what crime you think of committing, you will get caught, that you
nxist, absolutely must, think things through before you act, and that just
because you can do something doesn't mean you should. To this day 1 still
do not have a hard realistic reason why we broke into that car, but since
we did, we have been set on a track that makes it mandatory for me to be a
literal angel until March of 99.
However, in his own personal journal, which was obtained by members of the
media in late 2001 , Eric described the incident much, much differently:
Isn't America supposed to be the land ofthe fi'ee? How come ifl'mfree, I
can't deprive a stupid fiicking dumbshit fromhis possessions ifhe leaves
them sitting in the front seat of his fiicking van out in plain sight and in
the middle of fiicking nowhere on a Fri-fijcking-day night? NATURAL
SELECTION. Fucker should be shot.
Just as he had done with Judy Brown several months earlier, Eric Harris was
saying one thing and thinking another. The diversion program would not stop
Eric's hatred — nor would it stop him from secretly beginning a plot with Dylan
Klebold to attack Columbine High School.
Our whole firmly was on edge for soire time after we discovered Eric's Web pages.
We kept a baseball bat by the door, in case Eric tried to break into our house. If we
saw a car drive by slowly or heard people making noise outside, n^ brother and I
would sneak out with dad and hide behind the bushes, watching. My dad
installed brighter lights for the front and rear doors, as well as a motion-detector
We lived like that for a long time.
Things would still happen. On April 1 1, 1998, 1 received a short email from an
unknown sender. It said something like, "I know you're an enen^' of Eric's. I know
where you live and what car you drive." We reported it to the police, but
unfortunately the e-mail was accidentally erased before we could give thema copy.
One time n^ dad opened the front door in time to see a chain offirecrackers going
offon our porch. Obviously, there was no way to prove who had done this, either, but
when you read Eric's descriptions ofhis " Rebel Missions," it seems pretty obvious.
On another night, we were sitting in the living roomat about 1 1 :30 when Aaron
suddenly looked up and said, " Did you hear that? I heard some glass breaking or
something." We went outside and looked around, but we didn't see anything.
The next morning, rry dad went out to the garage and noticed that his car had tiny
red dots all over it. So did half the garage. Then we looked at the windows on the
garage door, and there was a little hole in one of them, barely an inch in dian^ter
Someone had shot apaintball through the window.
The police came and looked at the car, but obviously there was no way to prove
who was responsible. However, n^ parents and I got into the car and drove up and
down the neighborhood. We saw that a lot ofhouses had been shot with paintballs.
The path traced right back up to Eric's street.
During this time, 1 stopped talking to Dylan altogether. I didn't know what to
trust him with anymore. 1 was freaked out about the Web pages, and he was good
fiiends with Eric, so 1 avoided him
One thing that concerned me was that after a few months went by, Eric's Web site
hadn't been taken down. There were things on the pages that had been changed, but
nonetheless, Eric was still posting angry rants. My parents tried to get in touch with
Detective Hicks, to see how the investigation had progressed. They were never able
to reach him
In a CBS 60 Minutes II investigation two years after the assault on Columbine,
it was learned that a search warrant had been drafted for Eric Harris's home.
However, the warrant was never presented to a judge. Had it been served, the police
would have found pipe bombs, gunpowder, Eric's angry journal rants — and
perhaps early evidence of a plot he and Dylan were already beginning to hatch.
Even before they were arrested for breaking into the van in January, Eric and
Dylan felt like the whole world was against them. Some have theorized that the
trauma of this incident reinforced their feelings of persecution, cementing their
bond and making them hungry for revenge.
Eric's journal indicates that sometime in theirjunior year they devised their
plan to attack Columbine High School. Police reports show that in the spring of
1998, Dylan wrote in Eric's yearbook about "killing enemies, blowing stuff up,
killing cops! My wrath for January's incident will he godlike. Not to mention our
revenge in the commons " (the Columbine High School cafeteria, where Eric and
Dylan had suffered at the hands of bullies since freshman vear).
Eric wrote in Dylan's yearbook, "God 1 can't wait until they die. I can taste the
blood now. . . You know what I hate? MANKIND' Kill everything . . . kill everything . .
In a journal entry that was not released until nearly three rears after the
massacre, the Browns discovered just how seriously Eric had plollcd against thcni
— and, twelve months before the shootings, against the school. The entry was dated
April 26, 1998:
Sometirre in April rr^ and V will get revenge and kick natural selection
up a few notches . . . We will be in all black. Dusters, black Am^ pants,
and we will get customshirts that say R or V in the background in one big
letter and NBK [Eric's nickname for the planned attack, named for the
film Natural Bom Killers/in the front in a smaller fcnt . . .
First we will go to the house of. . . Brooks in the moming befcre school
starts and before anyone is even awake. We go in, we silently kill each
inhabitant and then pin down Brooks . . . Then take our sweet time pissing
on them, spitting on them and just torturing the hell out of them Once we
are done we set time bonbs to bum the houses down and take any
weaponry we find, who knows me [sic] may get lucky. Then get totally
prepared and during A lunch we go and park in our spots. With sunglasses
on we start carrying in all our bags ofterrorismand anarchismshit into our
table. Being very casual and silent about it, it's all for a
science/band/English project or soniething . . .
Once the first wave starts to go off and the chaos begins, V opens fire
and 1 start lobbin' the firebombs. Then I open fire, V starts lobbin' more
crickets. Then ifwe can go upstairs and go to each classroom we can pick
offfuckers at our will. Ifwe still can we will hijack some awesome car, and
drive offto the neighborhood ofour choice and start torching houses with
Molotov cocktails. By that time cops will be all over us and we start to
kill them too! We use bonbs, fire bonis and anything we flicking can to
kill and damage as much as we flicking can ... I want to leave a lasting
inpression on the world.
The plan was in place, and no one knew. Not me, not n^ parents, not the school.
The police could have stopped it, had they acted on £unily's report. But they
The warning signs were there. The threats, Eric's Web pages, the "Rebel
Missions" in the neighborhood. Today, they're all painliilly obvious. But back then,
no one was putting them together Not even me. In the back ofn^ mind, I couldn't
imagine why a person would rrurder anyone else, not even a person who wrote the
kinds ofthings that Eric did.
The following summer, I moved on with ny life. I believed the danger had passed.
BY THE END OF MY JUNIOR YEAR, SCHOOL SHOOHNGS WERE MAKING
their way into the news.
The first one I heard about was in 1997, when Luke Woodham killed two
students and wounded seven others in Pearl, Mississippi. Two months later, in West
Paducah, Kentucky, Michael Cameal killed three students at a high school prayer
service. In March of 1998, Mitchell Johnson and Andrew Golden of Jonesboro,
Arkansas — one aged thirteen, the other eleven — set offa fire alarmto make their fellow
students run outside, then opened fire fi-omthe trees. Tbey killed four students and a
teacher. Finally, Kip Kinkel went on a ranpage in Springfield, Oregon in May of
1998. He murdered both of his parents at home, then went to school, killed two
students, and wounded twenty-two others.
Each of these stories made national headlines; the attacks on Paducah and
Jonesboro happened right in the middle of n^ junior year In feet, 1 read a great deal
about them during debate class. We would hold cxlcnporancoiis meclings" where
we went through media clippings fi'om the past week and discussed them, and the
shootings came up several times.
Violence had plagued inner-city schools for some time, but these shootings
marked its first real appearance in primarily white, middle- to upper-middle-class
suburbs. And to me, it seemed the location wasn't the only unusual thing about these
shootings. In the past, when a kid shot somebody at school, it was because he had it
in for the victim and had come looking for him or her Now the rmtives seemed
diffirent. Now we were seeing people go into schools and whip out a gun for no other
reason than to randomly wipe out as many people as possible.
When we talked in class about the shootings, kids would nxJce jokes about how
" it was going to happen at Columbine next." They would say that Columbine was
absolutely primed for it, because ofthe bullying and the hate that were so prevalent at
Columbine had already seen its own tragedy that year In 1998, a student named
Robert Craig had killed his &ther and then himselfwith a gun at their home.
The students' response varied. Some kids didn't give a shit. Their basic attitude
was, "Aw, great, another death-metal guy died. Whoop-whoop." However, friends of
mine who had been close to Robert became very upset. The people who weren't in the
popular crowd went through a hell of a time when Robert died; seeing the jocks
laughing about it made things even worse.
I had talked to Robert Craig a couple oftinKS. 1 wasn't close to himor anything,
but we had a few ofthe same friends. He seemed like a good kid, and it upset me a lot
when I heard the news; I wrote a poem about it in one ofrr^ notebooks, trying to
make sense ofthe whole thing. The violence had seemed to come out of nowhere;
Robert had acted depressed sometimes, but plenty of people at Coluntine acted
depressed. It wasn't something that we thought would end with iiEirdering your dad
and then killing yourself
Still, 1 didn't dwell on Robert's death for long. Nor did I dwell on ir^ problems
with Eric. I spent the summer between junior and senior year playing in a band with a
few friends and my little brother I played drums, Aaron was on keyboards, and rry
friends Doug and Kevin handled vocals, guitar, and trunpet. We called ourselves
" Second Sedition." The way we saw it, the first sedition had been in 1776. We were
the second one. I wrote a good deal of our lyrics, and Aaron was an absolute master
when it came to raisic.
We recorded a demo CD and sent it out in the hopes oflanding a few live gigs
around the Denver area. We couldn't make it happen. We did play with a few other
bands in Clement Park at the end of our junior year, but we couldn't land any bar
gigs. We were told that our sound was " too dark." To us, that was a compliment, but
it didn't exactly help us build up an audience. The band pretty naich fell apart by the
beginning ofsenior year, but such is life. It had been fiin.
That fall, 1 picked up again with drama and debate. My fevorite high school
rremorics center around our speech contests. Sometimes we would travel Ibr
conpetitions, and have to stay in dorm rooms or something similar overnight. Wc
would pull all sorts ofcrazy antics when we were on the road.
Nick Baumgart, as always, kept us laughing. One time we were hanging out in
our roons during a competition. There were two beds in the room, and a couple of
guys were juirping from one bed to the other, trying to do tricks in mid-air Nick, not
wanting to be outdone, got in on the action. " I'm going to do it," he said, " and not
only that, I'mgoing to do a somersault!"
So Nick took a flying leap and started spinning. Unfortunately for him, he was a
little too enthusiastic, and he hit the ceiling. With his fece. It was one ofthose stucco
ceilings, with all ofthe little points and rough edges; this little shower oftiny stucco
pieces came down, and so did Nick. His £ice looked kind of interesting for a while
Debate conpetition was becoming better for me each year My skills were
inproving, 1 liked the people I was working with, and by senior year, 1 was ready to
make a run at Nationals. Seniors pair up with freshmen in the debate program each
year, to n^ntor them; I mentored a new kid in the program named Daniel Mauser. He
was a smart kid, and 1 liked him immediately, so I told himwhat I could.
In theatre, too, I felt at home. The first play of our senior year was Frankenstein.
and I won the role of Frankenstein's monster. The play Frankenstein isn't anything
like the old Boris Karloff movie, with the giant miniling monster who lurches
around with corks coning out ofhis neck. The stage version ofFrankenstein is much
more loyal to the book's thenK of society fearing what it doesn't understand.
Frankenstein's monster is a deep, troubled creature who was created by a scientist,
then dismissed as an abomination. Fromthere, he wanders alone, labeled as a " fi'cak"
by the rest of society and rejected by everyone who sees him The cruelty eventually
leads the monster to seek revenge.
I dove into that role with enthusiasm
Dylan got himself onto the sound crew hr Frankenstein. It was the first time I'd
really spent any time with him since he'd pointed rre toward Eric's Web pages. I had
calmed down over the whole mess during the sumrrer, but I still wasn't talking to
Dylan until the first day ofFrankenstein rehearsals in September.
That day, the ice between us broke. We didn't ever rrention Eric's Web site; we
just started talking again, as if we had silently accepted that the past was the past.
That night we went out lor cofiee at the nearby Perkins.
There were a few things about Dylan that had changed. He'd grown his hair out a
lot longer, and he had mich more of a " grunge" look to his clothing. Beyond his
physical appearance, though, he seemed like the same old Dylan.
He and I started hanging out again during those weeks of play rehearsal. It
became a habit to grab a soda or a coWee somewhere and just sit down and talk about
things. Sometimes we talked about school. Other tirres we talked about music. Dylan
would tell me about how great Rammstein and KMFDM were, and I'd lire back with a
spirited defense of Insane Clown Posse. Dylan was into very dark, fuck -i he-world
kinds ofmusic. It wasn't thing, but we had some great conversations regardless.
Dylan told me he was thinking about applying to the University of Arizona to
study conputer design. He sounded like he was making plans for his fixture. I
One time we spent the whole night reminiscing about the old video games we
used to play. We laughed about the first time we'd played Mortal Kombat in fi-ont of
our moms. Dylan recalled that Ninja Gaiden was the very first Nintendo game we'd
everplayed together back in grade school.
We loved talking about old times. We knew we would never again be as close as
we'd been in those grade school days; he and I were diflerent people now, with our
own interests and groups of friends. Still, we had a long history with each other, and
those nights afler rehearsal — sitting at Perkins with a cigarette and a couple ofCokes,
talking about the way things used to be — ^made for great times.
The seniors in our theatre troupe decided to produce a special video for
Frankenstein. Not only was it a fiirewell project for the drama students, it was a
ferewell to Mrs. Caruthers, who had been one of our fevorite teachers over the past
For the first pail ofthe tape, we did interviews with the cast and crew about their
fevorite rremDries ofMrs. Caruthers. We then added in footage fromrehearsal, along
with scenes fromthe movie Young Frankenstein.
Dylan, Zach Heckler and 1 were the three people who did " conmentary" for the
The three ofus sat down in the front row ofthe Coluniine auditoriumand set the
camera down on the stage. Our job was to review all of the people in the
Frankenstein program and ofe both conpliments and " inside jokes" that only those
involved in the dcparlnrnt would understand. Later we would intercut this footage
with scenes from Young Frankenstein and show the finished version to other people
in the drama club.
It was a lot of fiin to make, and the camera caught a few moments ofDylan coming
out of his quiet shell. We went backwards through the program, reading each name
and ofeing a few observations. Hie first name Zach read offwas Principal DeAngelis.
Dylan leaned in toward the camera. " Ha ha ha," he said.
Tlie three of us roasted each other as nuch as we could. Dylan, who had sat
quietly through some ofthe early j okes, happily came out ofhis shell for some ribbing
Dylan gave special mention to the makeup crew. "Damn good job," he said.
"Brooks, you were ugly as shit. And that's hard to beat, with the way you look
" I was uglier than I even amusually," I agreed.
"Don't get fire within twenty feet of the pants," Dylan warned, referring to my
"Frankenstein monster" costurre. "There were about thirty difeent chemicals put
into that." (Tliis was true, actually. Dylan and I made the pants using an old pair of
jeans that we soaked in gasoline and paint thinner to make them look as horrible as
possible. After the final pertonnance, we took themout to a field and flicked a cigarette
at them They immediately burst into flames.)
" Zach, how did this guy do on sound? " I asked, referring to Dylan.
" Oh, he sucked," Zach replied.
Dylan threw his hands up. " Thank you!"
"And everybody was crying about it, because it was late," Zach added. Dylan
hadn't finished preparing the sound cues by Mrs. C's original deadline.
" Yeah, yeah," Dylan said. " I'd like to bring forth attention to this, actually — for
three years now, I've been doing this job. Just a guess here, but I think I know what
I'mdoing — "
" Okay, shut up," I said. We all laughed.
That was how the video went. We picked out names, made a few good-natured
jokes, then conplimented the person and moved on. We had especially kind words for
Mrs. Caruthers, whomall three ofus were going to miss.
" You're losing your entire sound and light crew," I said to the camera. " This will
be the last play we get to do with you."
The three ofus asked for bribes in exchange for passing along our knowledge to
the next crop of students. "Hey, Mrs. C, next Saturday — big oT party," Dylan said.
" Heineken, Miller . . . We need you." It was a running joke for theatre students to try
and get Mrs. Caruthers to buy booze for us, because we knew she never would.
We offired our thanks to Mrs. Caruthers for her inspiration. "From the people
who have been working with you the longest, we want to say, very beautifiil J ob with
all the plays," I said.
" Very well done," Dylan added. " All ofthese kids over the years — I don't know
how, but. you put the whole thing together:"
" You've taught us how to work on our own," I said. " We really did this play on
our own, and it was fentastic. And we owe it to you, Mrs. C."
After the final perfermance that night, everyone fromthe show watched the video.
My momtook pictures. There was Dylan, laughing and having a good time. Just like
Throughout all ofthis, I was still avoiding Eric Harris. And Eric was avoiding
It was hard for Dylan. He didn't talk much about it, but you could tell. Nobody
wants to be in the position ofbeing fiiends with two people who hate each other.
I figured it wouldn't be fcr mich longer, though. By Decenijer, we were signing
up for spring term of senior year Only one more semester to go; then Dylan would be
off to college, and 1 would be offto do whatever the heck 1 decided to do, and we
would be fi-ee ofColuntine forever. Worries about Eric Harris were the ferthest thing
IN OUR FINAL SEMESTER AT COLUMBINE HIGH SCHOOL, I SmRTED talking
to Eric Harris again.
It was the first day of spring term First period, I had gym In second period, I
would be working as a student assistant to Mrs. Caruthers, grading tests and
assisting with miscellaneous projects. The first two hours of the day were pretty
uneventful; just your standard first-day-of-school orientation kind of thing. Then I
walked into third-hourphilosophy.
At first, everything seemed great. I was really excited about that class. Mr Kritzer
was one of n^' fevorite teachers, and this was the first time that a philosophy class
would be offered at Colunljine. The first person I saw when I walked in the room was
Becca Heins, who I knew was an absolute riot to be around. I was sitting next to her,
so we started talking as the rest ofthe students filed in.
Then I looked over rny shoulder Eric was sitting behind me.
That was a shock, lo say the least. In all four years at Coluinbine, 1 don't think
Eric and I had ever shared a class. Yet here he was. We hadn't spoken since the
windshield incident nearly a year ago, and the moment I saw him, I felt all that old
tension retuming. It was very uneasy fcr both of us. We went through third period
not saying a word to each other.
After the period was over, I headed fcr fourth-hour Creative Writing class. Lo and
behold, there was Eric again — and this time, Dylan was there, too. So this was going
to be even more interesting. Becca was in this class, too, and so was Nate Dykeman.
Tliey all sat together, but I sat on the other side ofthe room, kind ofcursing to rr^self
Three and a half years ofno classes with Eric Harris, and now. when 1 know the
guy hates me, we have two classes in a row. Unbelievable. I spent that night thinking
it over. I knew there was no way I could go through four months ofthis.
I decided, " Fuck this. I'mnot going to have someone sitting behind me where Fm
worried that he's going to be stabbing me in the back or giving me shit. I'mnot going
to sit in fourth hour and ignore all n^' friends because Eric's with them I have to make
up with him"
Obviously, I was still angry about what had happened the year before. But a lot of
time had passed, and that initial rage had dulled. Besides, n^ mind was weighing the
benefits ofmaking peace against the difficulty ofthe next four months ifl didn't.
The next morning, I had a cigarette before class, to prepare. Then I walked into
third hour just before the bell rang. Eric was already there.
I told Eric I wanted to bury the hatchet. I said we'd been pissed offat each other
for long enough. I told him that I had changed a lot since last year, that I knew I had
been a piece of shit in a lot of ways, and that 1 hoped he felt the same way about
himself " We were both immature," 1 said. I just want to move on."
Eric seemed surprised. 1 don't think he ever expected that I would extend an olive
branch, much less admit I had been ajerk. He shrugged and said, " Cool."
It w^ strange. By the time class started, we were joking about what stupid little
kids we had both been. Eric said there were probably two sophomores out there
doing the same sort ofthing right now, and that they wouldn't be talking again until
senior year, either It was funny. We laughed.
If sonKone had told rre the year before that I would ever share a laugh with Eric
Harris again, 1 would have called him or her insane. Yet here we were. And once
fourth hour rolled around, I moved over and sat next to him, Dylan, and Becca.
Dylan was stunned at the turn of events. He and I went out for a cigarette that day,
and Eric was with us. We told Dylan that things were cool between us. To be honest,
I think Dylan was one reason why Eric and I patched things up so easily. Both ofus
knew the strain ourrifi had put on him; nobody likes to play the go-between.
Several people have suggested to me that Eric found excuses to hate me back in
junior year because he felt I was threatening his friendship with Dylan. After all, he
had pushed away their other friends one by one. The theory makes sense. When you're
younger, and you live in a society like Columbine, you get the feeling that friendship
is finite and can be tossed away easily, that starting a fiiendship with one person
means losing friendships with others. Yet you learn through experience that
fiiendship can be infinite.
Eric came froma background ofconstantly moving around with his family; who
knows how many friendships were cut offfor him each time? In Dylan, he saw a best
friend, and he feared anything that could take that away. Fromthere, he found excuses
to make me a target.
I was hoping all ofthat would be behind us now.
I know it seems strange that I would make peace with sonKone who had
threatened to kill me, vandalized n^ parents' house, and refused to speak to me for the
past year. However, it just made sense to create peace. I wasn't looking to become
Eric's best friend, but I wanted to be able to hang out with Dylan without it being an
issue. I wanted to be able to go to class and not worry about Eric. When he and I had
nwtual friends and shared classes, it just made sense.
People do have the potential to change. It had been over a year since we'd had
our problems. 1 figured that if Eric turned out to be as big a prick as he'd been before, I
would stop talking to him However, if he had grown up, then why not give him the
chance to prove it?
The first thing I noticed about Eric was that he didn't get angry nearly as easily
anymore. Things that used to set offhis tenper would just make him chuckle now. He
seemed calm, composed. As strange as this sounds today, he seemed a lot less prone to
This was especially inpressive since, as always, the jocks were still targeting
him and Dylan. Soon after we'd made peace, 1 was smoking cigarettes with themwhen
a bunch of football players drove by, yelled something, and threw a glass bottle that
shattered near Dylan's feet. 1 was pissed, but Eric and Dylan didn't even flinch.
" Don't worry about it, man," Dylan said. " It happens all the time."
Another time, Eric and Dylan were searched for drugs after someone in school
" reported them" as a way to harass them Eric and Dylan were removed from class and
searched. Their lockers and their cars were searched as well. No drugs were turned up,
but the two ofthemhad been humiliated nonetheless.
They shrugged it off
Eric didn't seem to be as quiet in front ofpeople as he'd once been. At one point
in Creative Writing, we had to do a "personification essay," describing what it
would feel like to be a certain inanimate object. For example, you could write about
what it feels like to be a desk, or a chair.
The assignment seen'cd ludicrous, and no one wanted to do it. So Eric decided to
get crazy with it, by writing an essay about a shotgun and a shotgun shell getting
married. The story ended with the two oflhemgoing offand having a bunch oflittle
" pellet babies." It was one of the funniest damned things in the world, and when Eric
read it in front ofthe class, everyone was cracking up.
I couldn't imagine anything like that happening in sophomore year. I couldn't
imagine Eric getting up in front ofthe entire class and not only reading his work, but
putting on such a " performance" that people would be rolling on the floor.
It seemed like Eric had found a new voice with his writing. We were assigned to
write poetry, essays, and short stories, some fiction and some nonfiction. I saw a new
side ofEric emerge through his writing on more than one occasion.
Eric wrote an essay about his childhood, in which he described playing "war"
with his brother and a neighborhood girl at his old place in Michigan. He wrote
about the joy and innocence of those early days, playing cops and robbers in the
fields or hiding in the forest behind his house.
The teacher asked Eric to read it out loud in fi'ont of the class. He declined, but
when I ofered to read it for him, he said, " Sure," and handed it to me. I was glad to do
it. It was a simple, pleasant story, authored by someone who seemed to have worked
through many ofhis issues.
New sides of Dylan's personality came out in Mrs. Kelly's class, too. At one
point we were given a " collaborative story" writing exercise. The idea was that one
person would write the first paragraph ofa story, then hand the paper to someone else,
who would read it and then add on. I wound up collaborating with Dylan.
Earlier, we had been assigned to read a book called A Prayer For Owen Meany,
by John Irving. It's supposed to be loaded with symbolism, but n^ fi-iends and I
didn't get into it. We disliked Owen Meany, who was supposed to be the hero. We
also objected to the religious themes ofthe book, and resented the feet that we were
being forced to read it for class.
I was in a sarcastic mood that day, so for the story's first paragraph, I wrote:
There is a fiery inferno surrounding you. Satan is sitting on his
throne, pointing and laughing at you. A copy of A Prayer For Owen
Meany sits in front of you, next to a box full of the book. A sign has been
placed next to the book that says, "Read all of these."
Dylan could see where I was going, so when it came his turn to write, he added;
Just then, the god of coolness came down upon Satan. "Satan, this
punishment is too cruel for any soul. What happened to fire and
brimstone? " " Owen Meany is far worse, ha ha ha, " replied Satan. Then
the coolness god perished all copies of the hook, saying that no soul
deserved to read the tortuous, morbid, evil book. Then Hell was a happy
place, and Satan started a chain of day-care centers.
Eric and Dylan were both making me laugh. They were fiin to be around in those
final months. We were fi'i ends just like before — only this time, the anger that had hung
over themin junior year seemed to have dissipated and been replaced with wisecracks
and an eagerness to finish up with school so they could move on with life. It was a
welcome change — or so I felt.
There were days when we'd all ditch class together. One time I went with Eric,
Dylan, and Becca to pick up sandwiches and eat them over at Eric's house. I hadn't
been over there in a long time, and it felt strange to be there, but by now 1 felt at ease
enough with Eric to not think twice about it. His parents weren't home at the time,
which was probably a good thing. That would have been an awkward reunion, to say
1 didn't say anything to n^ parents about Eric at first. For the first month or so, 1
wasn't really sure ifwe would become fi'iends again. We might have made peace, but I
didn't know whether or not he had changed. That's the philosophy I go by: "Trust
your neighbors, but lock your doors." I was being carefiil. Eric was being a good kid
again? Go with it, 1 told n^self But don't get screwed over a second time.
However, by March 1 realized that things were going to be okay. I decided
parents should know that he and 1 had resolved our differences.
It didn't go well.
We were sitting at the dinner table, talking about school, and I just decided to
bring up the subject.
" Well, you're not going to believe who I've made up with." I said.
Somehow n^ momknew exactly who I meant. " Don't say it," she replied.
"It's Eric," I said. I laughed over how bizarre it was, expecting that ray parents
would laugh too.
They didn't. Instead, n^ momstared at me, stone-feced.
" It's a trick," she said.
"I knew who Brooks meant the moment he said that I wouldn 't believe it. " Judy
Brown said. "Eric was the only kid who would have shocked nte like that. So Brooks
was right — I couldn't believe it. And one of the first things I said was, 'Don 't trust
Randy Brown reacted angrily. He remembers asking Brooks, "What the hell are
you doing? This kid wanted to kill you! " He and Judy began a heated argument
with their son, who they felt was ignoring common sense in making up with Eric.
Brooks was angry, because his parents seemed to be contradicting their own
advice. He pointed out to both of them that they had taught him from an early age
to give people a second chance if it seemed like they had changed.
"That was difficult, because we had always taught him that," Randy Brown
recalls. "Because that's the same chance that Brooks never got from the other kids
at Columbine. Once kids make up their mind that someone's not wanted, it's hard to
break that down. But at the same time, Judy and I hadn't forgotten last year. We
wanted Brooks to stay away from that kid. "
The argument grew so intense that Brooks wound up storming out of the house.
He drove to the nearby Perkins restaurant to get a cup of coffee and cool off.
My parents and I were still fighting all the tirre, even in senior year We had a
strange relationship, because I loved themso much and we talked about things that a
lot ofkids would never talk to their parents about. Yet when we fought, it would get
very ugly and very personal. I made a lot of trips out to Perkins — sometimes with
fiiends, other times by n^'selC but almost always to get out of the house fcr a while. I
can't say we had a love/hate relationship, because I've never hated parents. But it
was certainly a rocky one.
That night, I was angry because n^ parents wouldn't trust n^ judgment. It was as
ifthey thought I had forgotten everything that had happened the year before. I hadn't.
How could anyone forget that? What I wanted them to understand was that 1
remembered the same things they did, yet I'd found it in rr^ heart to get past it and
start over If I could do that, and I was the one most directly afficted by Eric, I thought
they should trust decision. Especially with all of their lessons about giving
people a second chance.
I did give some thought to what they'd said. I wondered i I" maybe 1 had allowed
rr^self to forget things because it was convenient to do so. Nonetheless, I was
determined to give Eric that second chance. 1 had made a lot ofmistakes in rr^ own life
at that point, so I knew that to refiise someone a second chance when he's truly
changed is really hurtfiil and demeaning.
What I didn't know was that n^ mom was right. Eric was putting on an act, and
not just for rre. He and Dylan weren't laughing at their troubles in class because they
had grown up and learned to deal with them They were laughing because they knew
that, in only a few more months, they were going to shock everyone with their
the calm before the storm
THE COLUMBINE HIGH SCHOOL CLASS OF 1999 HAD ITS PICTURE mKEN
on the bleachers of the gymnasium, with close to fcur hundred kids packed together
like one big, happy fenily. Up in the fer left-hand comer of that picture were Eric,
Dylan, and me.
Zach Heckler and Robyn Anderson were up there with us. We learned we would
be doing two difeent poses: an "official" or serious class photo and a silly one.
Since he was oflering us the chance to do a silly" picture, the photographer figured
we wouldn't do anything to screw up the serious one. We were instructed to hold
still for the extended ej^osure of the picture, so all of us gave our best "serious
looks" to the camera.
When it came time for the " silly shot," Eric donned his KMFDM hat, and he and
Dylan both put on shades. Eric suggested that, since we were having a camera
pointed at us, it would be cool to point imaginary guns back. So the five of us
pantomimed doing exactly that.
It seemed like a fixnny thing to do. I never thought twice about it.
People always ask about warning signs Eric and Dylan might have shown in the
weeks before Columbine. By then, however, it was too late. The warning signs had
come the year before. Now they had learned to keep their secret to themselves.
I remember Eric telling me once in class that he couldn't wait until he turned
eighteen so he could buy a gun. The conversation was pretty short, and he didn't
bring it up again. But when someone says something like that, you have no reason to
think he might already own guns.
But Eric and Dylan did.
They bought their first guns with the help ofRobyn, who appeared in that class
picture ncxl lo us. We had first met Robyn as sophomores, when she was dating a guy
in the theatre department. Since that time, she had remained fi"iends with Dylan.
I never liked Robyn. I didn't talk to her much. 1 knew she had a romantic interest
in Dylan, but he didn't return it. When they attended Prom together, it was only as
friends. However, he and Eric did find a way to use her fi"iendship to their advantage.
Eric and Dylan had tried to buy weapons at the Tanner Gun Show in Denver once
befcre, but feiled because they weren't eighteen. Their solution was to find someone
who was eighteen to do their buying for them So they found Robyn.
In police interviews, Robyn claimed Eric and Dylan had told her that the
weapons were just for target practice, and that when she asked them whether they
would be used for anything else, they replied that they weren't stupid enough to do
such a thing. So, without further question, she acconpanied them to the show, let
them pick out the weapons, and then acted as the buyer. No one at the gun show
seemed to question this.
In his journal, Eric described the events ofthe day this way:
Well, folks, today was a very Inportant day In the history ofR. Today,
along with ^6DkA and someone else who I won't name, we went
downtown and purchased the following: a double barrel 12 ga. shotgun, a
pump-action 12 ga. shotgun, a 9mm carbine, 250 9mm rounds, 15 12 ga.
slugs, and 40 shotgun shells, 2 switchblade knives, and a total of 4-10
round clips for the carbine. We . . . have . . . GUNS! We fiicking got em, you
sons ofbitches! HA! HA HA HA! Neener! Booga Booga. Heh. It's all over
now. This caps it olE the point ofno return . . .
Later, we learned of many other waming signs that happened in that final year.
However, they were so spread out in space and time that no one could think of
The incidents later shared hy people who knew Eric Harris and Dylan Klehold
Spell a tragic story, and if one person had known about all of them, an obvious — yet
unthinkable — picture would have been painted.
Columbine student Nate Dykeman told police he had witnessed Eric and Dylan
detonating a pipe bomb in January of 1998, the same day that the Denver Broncos
won the Super Bowl. However, Nate also said Eric's father had found one of Eric's
pipe bombs and confronted him with it. According to Nate, Eric showed him the
bomb in his parents' closet and said that his dad was going to make him detonate it
— but that his dad had never bothered to look for more of the bombs in Eric's room.
Nate Dykeman would drift apart from Eric after the two became interested in
the same girl. However, Nate told police that in the weeks before the shootings Eric
had showed him a videotape of liimsc/f and Dylan firing weapons alongside Mark
Manes and Philip Duran. The tapes depleted both a TEC-9 and a sawed-off
shotgun. Neither of those weapons would be ideal for target shooting, yet that's
what Eric told Nate they were doing.
Chris Morris, a member of the "Trench Coat Mafia " who still worked with Eric
and Dylan at Blackjack Pizza, told police that Eric had joked about killing jocks
and suggested placing bombs on the generators as a way to blow up the school.
However, it had seemed like joking around, Morris said.
Classmates in Eric's government class recall a video he and Dylan shot for
"The Trench Coat Mafia Protection Service, " in which the two offered their services
to the bullied and oppressed; they could be hired to beat up a bully or wreak havoc
on an enemy
Eric's parents, who were told by doctors that he was struggling with
depression, had placed him on Luvox.
Dylan wrote a paper for his sixth-period composition class called "The Mind
and Motives of Charles Manson " in November of 1998. Months later, he would turn
in an essay to his creative writing teacher that graphically described a trenchcoat-
wearing assassin shooting and killing bullies outside a bar.
A co-worker remembers Eric receiving a paycheck in March and commenting
that he would use it to buy more propane tanks. The co-worker told police that Eric
already owned seven tanks and wanted to get nine more with the check, aiming to
have thirty in all by April 20. The employee asked why; Eric replied that it was
Nicole Markham, who dated Chris Morris and went to Columbine, told police
that she saw Eric and Dylan standing in the school cafeteria with a piece of paper
they were studying intently When she asked what it was, they refused to tell her, so
she playfully grabbed it away from them. She saw that it was a homemade diagram
of the cafeteria, with the location of the security cameras clearly marked.
Each of these warning signs, by themselves, seemed little more than odd to the
people who observed them. Put together, they form a disturbing picture of what was
about to happen.
No one was in a position to put them together.
When I look back, I'm still amazed at the acting job Eric and Dylan did. None of
us knew what was going to happen. None ofus knew that fer over a year they'd been
cooking up a plot to attack the school.
Some ofir^ classmates talked to the media about how Eric and Dylan used to sit
in class and say things like " Can I shoot that guy?" I remember them saying things
like that, too. However, it never seemed serious. After all, there are jokes about
violence, and then there are actual threats to commit violence. Eric and Dylan always
seemed like they were joking. They would see some jock push a kid over, or hear a
kid say something conpletely ignorant and stupid, and say, " Boy, that fticker should
be killed," or " I wish that guy would get hit by a car" They were general expressions
of finastration. They never said anything like " Boy, I'm going to go home and get n:y
.22 and put a bullet in his brain this afternoon." It never seemed serious.
Some have suggested that Eric and Dylan never seriously thought they were
going to do it until right before they actually did. I don't agree. They knew exactly
what they were doing. There's a part ofme that would like to believe that Dylan was
separating himself emotionally from what was about to happen. Realistically, though,
that's not likely. He and Eric both wanted revenge. They had been looking forward to
April 20 for a long, long time.
A few months before graduation, parents of seniors at Columbine High School
were required to attend a meeting explaining how the ceremony would be carried
out. Attendance was required in order to get tickets to the ceremony. So Judy Brown
called Sue Klebold, and the two made plans to attend together.
After they had listened to the speech and picked up their tickets, the two
longtime friends sat down in the auditorium to catch up. It was their first real
conversation in months. Judy learned that Dylan's father had taken him to visit the
University of Arizona, where he was enrolled for the fall. Dylan had seen his future
dorm room and the student lounge, and taken a walking tour of the campus.
"She was so excited about how Dylan was doing," Judy recalled of Mrs.
Klebold. "Dylan was picking out his room, and he was looking at the girls and
talking about them; it was something he had never really done before. He would
nudge his dad and say, 'Ooo, she was gorgeous; did you see her? '
"She said he was so happy that Dylan was on his way," Judy continued. "She
asked him, 'Are you sure you want to take off like this, to a big college? Do you
maybe just want to break away slowly instead? 'But he wanted to go. He picked out
a dorm room that was going to be near the cafeteria. He talked about how great the
campus was. He was excited.
"He loved computers, and now he was going to computer school. He was
planning on going to the Prom. It was so unlike him, seeing him coming out of his
shell like this. It seemed like he was happy, like he was finding his way. "
Judy paused for a moment before continuing.
"And all the while, he was planning this massacre. "
The key point I have to stress about those final few weeks at Columbine is that, to
nK, nothing seemed out ofthe ordinary. All ofthe warning signs I saw had happened
back in junior year. While friends did observe the occasional odd thing, it was like
holding one tiny puzzle piece and trying to figure out what the picture nright be. It
would all make sense later, but at the time, Eric and Dylan were covering their tracks
Dylan wasn't the only one who seemed to be making plans fcr his fiiture. Eric had
applied to join the Marines; the son of an Air Force veteran, he talked often that
serrester about his desire to serve in the military, and how the idea ofbeing paid to
run around with guns and defend America really appealed to him
On April 15, 1999, Eric and his parents met with a Marine recruiter to discuss
Eric's application. Eric was told that his application was being rejected because he
had lied and told themhe wasn't taking Luvox to treat depression. Because ofthat —
and perhaps because Eric hadn't disclosed his medical history regarding his chest
deformity — the military was turning himdown.
Eric mentioned that at school the next day. It was the Friday before the attack on
Columbine. He seemed disappointed, even though he talked like he was blowing it
Sometimes I wonder i^ had he been accepted, Eric would have been prompted to
make a last-minute change in plans and abort the attack. We will never know the
answer to that. On the olhcr hand, it's possible that the entire application was a ruse,
just like Dylan's application to college; after all, if two boys look like they are
actively planning for their Rjtures, would you ever suspect that they were actually
plotting a massacre that would end in their own deaths?
Some adults ask how high schoolers could have been mature enough to carry out
such a detailed plan in secret. These people are selling teenagers short. Teenagers —
particularly intelligent ones like Eric and Dylan — are n»re than capable ofkeeping
their intentions secret, especially if they have been planning something for a long
time. A lot of strategy can be discussed in a year, and if one ofthe plotters starts to get
sloppy, the other can pull himback into line.
Tlieir plan was amazing in its intricacy. Eric and Dylan had spent over a year
working at Blackjack Pizza to save up the money to buy weapons, which they
managed through close friends. Had Eric and Dylan been acting like homicidal
maniacs when they asked for help with the guns, their friends would have been
suspicious. However, because they were acting so much more mature, it seemed
believable that they only wanted the weapons for target practice. From there, they
went " target shooting" for the next few months — to teach themselves how to shoot.
They kept their weapons hidden; nothing was ever left out where their parents
would see it, because Eric had already learned his lesson with the pipe bomb.
Rather than act like rebels, they put on their best behavior. Eric, who used to
shoot his mouth off on his Web site about the violence he wanted to create, had
learned to shut up. He kept his plans to his personal journal now, which no one
would see but him — at least, not until the plan had been executed.
In his journals, Eric wrote, " If I have to cheat and He to everyone, then that's fine.
THIS is what 1 ammotivated for, THIS is rr^ goal, THIS is what I want 'to do with n^'
On April 3 of 1 999. Eric wrote this final entry in his journal:
Months have passed. It's the first Friday night in the final month.
Much shit has happened. VoDkA has a TEC-9, we test fired all of our
babies, we have 6 time clocks ready, 39 crickets, 24 pipe bombs, and the
napalm is under construction . . . The amount of dramatic irony and
foreshadowing is fucking amazing. Everything I see and hear, I
incorporate into NBK sonwhoM: Either bombs, clocks, guns, napalm,
killing people, anything and everything finds some tie to it. Feels like a
goddamn movie sometimes. I wanna try to put some bombs and mines
around this town too, maybe. Get a few extra frags on the scoreboard. I
hate vou people for leaving me out of so many fun things. And no, don't
fucking say "Well that's your fault" because it isn't, you people had my
phone #, and I asked and all, but no no no no don't let the weird looking
Eric KID come along, ooh fucking nooo . . .
That final week, life proceeded as normal. People were talking Promat school, but
I didn't care too mich. I knew Dylan was going with Robyn and that people were
trying to hook Eric up with a date. He asked a few girls, but they all turned him
down. In the end, he wound up inviting a girl over to his house on Prom night to
watch a movie, then catching up with Dylan later at the after-Promparty.
Me, I had to work that night; I had a job as a manager at Pizza Hut. Besides, I had
just broken up with n^' longtime girlfriend only a few weeks beforehand. Prom was
the last thing on n^ mind.
Two days later, Becca and I asked Eric and Dylan if they wanted to skip fourth
hour and meet us for lunch at McDonald's. Eric said sure, but that he and Dylan were
going to stop by Eric's house first. We skipped class a lot; it was only a little more
than a month until graduation, after all. We were high school seniors at the end of the
year, looking past Coluniine at what lay ahead. We were ready to get out of that
school. Ready to get on with our lives.
It was April 19,1999.
According to the initial Jefferson County Sheriff's Report, released to the
media one year after the Columbine tragedy occurred, Dylan Klebold wrote an
entry in his notebook late on the night of Sunday, April 18.
"About 26.5 hours from now, the judgment will begin, " Dylan reportedly wrote.
"Difficult but not impossible, necessary, nerve-wracking and fun. What fun is life
without a little death? It's interesting, when I'm in my human form, knowing I'm
going to die. Everything has a touch of triviality to it. "
Dylan also wrote out his itinerary for April 20, including when he would be
meeting Eric, how they would fill their propane tanks, and when and where they
would gear up.
Zach Heckler told police that on Monday, April 19, he called Dylan at around
10:30 p.m., as he often did. On his first try, the report says, Dylan was on the phone
with someone else. On the second attempt, Dylan told Zach he was tired and not in
the mood to talk. Heckler told police it seemed odd, because Dylan didn't usually go
to bed until 12:30 or 1:00.
Police also report that on the same night, Eric recorded a message into a tape
"It will happen in less than nine hours now, " he said. "People will die because
of me. . .It will be a day that will be remembered forever. "
Tuesday morning. April 20. For once I didn't oversleep.
Aaron and I got into his car and headed for school. Now that he had his license
too, we were alternating who drove. My class was playing dodgeball in P.E. today, so
once we pulled into a spot at Clement Park, I headed for the gynmasium
Nothing seemed unusual until I arrived in third hour I sat down next to Becca
Heins, who asked me ifl knew where Eric was.
I shrugged. Maybe he and Dylan went downtown or something, I said. Both ofus
were astonished that Eric was skipping today's test on Chinese philosophy.
Hie same was true when I arrived in fourth hour No Eric, no Dylan. Strange that
neither ofthemhad mentioned their plans to skip. We had no idea where they were.
Somewhere between 10:30 and 11:00 a.m., Eric and Dylan were at Eric's house,
making final preparations. Their weapons complete and assembled, their bombs
packed into duffel bags, all that was left was for them to record one last message on
While the actual tape has never been released to the public, members of the
media were allowed to view it, and much of their conversation was also described in
"It's about half an hour before our little judgment day," Dylan said into the
camera. "Just know that I'm going to a better place than here. I didn't like life too
much, and I know I'll be happier wherever the fucklgo. So I'm gone. "
Dylan also held the camera for Eric, who had his own parting words.
"I just wanted to apologize to you guys for any crap, " Eric said. "To everyone I
love, I'm really sorry about all of this. I know my mom and dad will be just fucking
shocked beyond belief "
From behind the camera, Dylan spoke up. "We did what we had to do. "
The two made their final comments to friends, then Eric ended the tape. "That's
it," he said. "Goodbye."
Fourth hour ended, and 1 walked outside to have a cigarette. I went down to the
sidewalk at the edge ofPierce Street, looked to the south — and saw a little Honda
pull into the Columbine parking lot.
I never saw Dylan pull in. I had no idea ofwhat was going to happen. I was still a
high school kid whose biggest concern at the moment was whether or not to skip fifth
So many things about that day are a blur. But I remember one thing clearly.
I remember Eric Harris — the kid who had threatened to kill me, the kid who was
now carrying lethal weaponry in duflfel bags on the ground next to me — laughing as
he told me to go home.
the nightmare begins
WHEN BROOKS OBSERVED ERIC HARRIS PULLING DUFFEL BAGS OUT OF
his car, he couldn't have known that those duffel bags contained explosives,
including two massive propane bombs. The bombs were hidden by gym clothes, so
that anyone who got suspicious and looked inside the hag wouldn't see anything
amiss. After Eric spoke with Brooks, the killers placed those two honihs in the
cafeteria. Their timers were set to go off at the exact time that they calculated the
highest number of students would be eating lunch.
The two had parked their cars outside two of the lower-level entrances to
Columbine. They had additional bombs rigged in the cars, timed to go off exactly
half an hour later — right around the time that police and rescue personnel would
be on the scene.
If things went according to plan, the cafeteria bombs would go off killing
hundreds and doing massive damage to the school itself Eric and Dylan wanted to
be waiting outside, wearing black trench coats with their weapons concealed
underneath, to pickoff survivors as they emerged from the carnage.
However, the timed bombs failed.
Waiting outside, Eric and Dylan realized something was wrong. Witnesses saw
them standing atop the west staircase overlooking the school, perhaps deciding
what to do next. Underneath their trench coats, they were armed with pipe bombs,
cricket bombs, the two shotguns, Eric's Hi-Point 9-millimeter carbine, and Dylan's
One of them shouted to the other, "Gol Go! "
Brooks's brother Aaron was eating lunch in the cafeteria at the time. He
remembers everything seeming normal until a few kids stood up and began
gathering around the windows, pointing at something. When Aaron looked, he saw
two kids already lying on the ground, and he watched another collapse and lie still.
'No one knew what was happening," he said. "We didn't see any blood. We
thought maybe it was a fight. "
Then teacher Dave Sanders ran through the cafeteria, shouting at students to
get down and take cover under the tables. Aaron turned to a friend and laughed.
"You have any idea what's going on? "
That's when he heard the crack of gunshots. Aaron and his friends dropped to
their knees and started crawling along the floor. When they heard another series of
gunshots, they got up and ran. They tore through the auditorium, coming out in the
hallway on the other side and getting swept up in the massive crush of students
fleeing for the exit.
Aaron didn 't look hack at the shooters. He could hear them: hiil/efs were flying
over his head. From somewhere behind him, Aaron heard another student scream,
"Fm shotl " Ahead of him, bullets shattered the glass in the entrance doors.
Aaron made it out safely and ran to his car with his friends. They drove home
as fast as they could.
Others were not so lucky. Two students, Rachel Scott and Daniel Rohrbough, lay
dead outside the west entrance of Columbine. Sean Graves, Lance Kir klin, Michael
.Johnson, Mark Taylor, and Anne Marie Hochalter had all been injured, several of
According to the Jefferson County Sheriffs report, witnesses heard one of the
gunmen shout, "This is what we always wanted to do. This is awesome! "
Ihank God. Thank God.
Hiose were the only words going through rny head as I ran from the car to n^
house. My little brother was alive. I threw it^ anns around himand cried.
I looked around. Aaron had a few friends standing around. I hugged them, too. I
was happy to see anyone 1 knew. Ifl saw them, that meant that they were alive, that
there was one less death at n^ school.
I went inside and sat down in front of the Xy which was already on. There was
Columbine, all over every channel. Aerial shots, ground shots, and every kind of
media you could imagine.
And then there was a picture I'll never forget. Sarah Bay appeared on the screen.
She was alive. I realized that this TV was my window into who was making it out
So I kept watching.
Teacher Patti Nielsen, who was serving as hall monitor that day, was
approached by student Brian Anderson about some sort of activity going on
outside. She told police she walked to the glass doors of the west entrance and saw
Eric Harris with a gun — and that at first she believed it to be a toy, perhaps part of
a prank of some kind.
Harris turned and looked at her, then opened fire. The bullets shattered the
glass and grazed Nielsen 's shoulder. Fragments also hit Anderson. The two turned
and ran for the Columbine library, where Nielsen dialed 911.
Several police officers — including Deputy Neil Gardner, the officer assigned to
the school — arrived on scene and exchanged gunfire with Eric Harris. However,
they did not pursue the gunmen into the school.
Friends kept coming over to house as the afiemoon progressed. My cousin
Josh Ellis left work and came by to see me; he had heard the news on the radio. My
friend Mike Troutman, who was a student at Heritage High School nearby, got out ol"
school early and came over Trevor Dolac came by. As each of rr^ friends arrived, I
thanked them for coming and we hugged, but I was so nunb that, to be honest, I
remenfcer little ofwhat we said. Nothing felt real about that day.
We knew that Eric was involved in the shooting, but we weren't sure about
Dylan. That really had n^ mom frightened. We were hearing reports on the news of
multiple shooters, " clad in black," and we all knew that wherever Eric went, Dylan
was sure to be somewhere nearby.
Now that she knew Aaron and I were both safe, n^ mom thought of her friend Sue
Klebold. She had spoken with the Klebolds briefly on the phone; they had already
heard the rumors. Since Aaron and I had our dad there, momdecided to drive to the
Klebold house to ofer her friend support.
We were hoping it would turn out that Dylan wasn't involved. But logic told us
otherwise. Dylan had skipped class with Eric. No one had seen or heard from him
since the shooting started. It looked bad.
My fears were confirmed as I saw Dylan's name appear on the screen. He was one
oftwo suspects; the other was Eric. I felt rt^ heart sink into the floor
Right at that moment, the phone rang. It was n^ mother She was with the
Klebolds, standing outside the house. Apolice detective was already at the Klebold
"Have you heard anything?" she asked me. "Do they know who the shooters
I took a moment. " Mom, it's Dylan."
" Are you sure? I mean, do you know that for sure or is that just what someone
" Mom, they just showed his name on the TV It's Dylan."
While their parents and friends were in anguish over what was happening, Eric
and Dylan were in the library, alone amidst (he carnage they had made.
Ten more people were now dead. Dave Sanders — the teacher who had warned
Aaron Brown and hundreds of other students in the cafeteria to run — was still
alive, but had been badly wounded in the hallway. He had made it to one of the
science rooms, where he now lay bleeding to death as students tried frantically to
save him. He would be dead in another few hours, becoming Eric and Dylan's
Ten students had been killed in the Columbine library. Shortly after Patti
Nielsen made her 911 call, Eric and Dylan came through the library doors with
guns ill hand. They took their time picking off victims one by one, shooting under
desks, executing kids, and laughing.
The police knew this because Nielsen's 911 call was still open. She had set the
phone down and taken cover under the library counter, so the receiver was still
picking up everything. Even though fire alarms were ringing throughout the school,
thanks to the nniltip/e pipe bombs Eric and Dylan had lobbed into the cafeteria,
police could hear the screams, the gunshots, and the taunts.
The police weren't moving. Later they explained that they had been trained to
establish a perimeter around a suspect, ensuring that there could be no escape.
However, no one was actually entering the school to try to engage the shooters, even
though the 911 call offered a clear indication of where they were in the building.
Because police weren't pressuring them, Eric and Dylan left the library —
allowing thirty-four students to escape out the back door in the process — and went
downstairs to the cafeteria. Security cameras recorded Eric attempting to set off
one of the failed propane bombs bv shooting at it with his shotgun. He had no luck.
The tape also captured Dylan lobbing one last pipe bomb, creating a fire in the
cafeteria. Then the pair returned to the library for the final time.
One of the first things Aaron did once he got home was go to the conputer and
make sure we had a saved copy ofEric's Web site. Somehow, even amidst the shock of
what was happening, we knew we had something that people needed to know about.
I remember hearing one of the television reporters say that, according to police
and school officials, " the suspects had no history ofviolence." That upset me. So we
called the news hotline for one of the TV stations, wanting to correct them When I
told them about the Web pages and history with Eric Harris, they asked if they
could send a crew out to speak with me.
Half an hour later, reporter Ward Lucas from Channel 9 was knocking on our door.
We sat on the porch, and I told him what I knew. I showed him copies of Eric's
Web site. 1 told himabout ir^ last rreeting with Eric in the parking lot. 1 talked about
the Trench Coat Mafia, and about how the group had been bullied by the jocks.
Basically, I was rambling, trying to get points across even though I was still freaked
out by everything.
Lucas was very kind. He said what he could to make me feel at ease. He thanked
me for having come forward. Looking back, I think he felt sorry for me.
Once that interview hit the airwaves, other reporters started calling. The Denver
Post wanted to talk. So did the Rocky Mountain News. Clips from Ward Lucas's
interview with me were on CNN. For the first time, people were hearing what the
police had known for a long time: Eric Harris was a dangerous kid.
Through it all, we still didn't know the details of what was happening at
Columbine. We still watched events unfold on TV I saw the live shot of Patrick
Ireland crawling out the library window and being rescued. He had been shot
nwltiple times, in the head and elsewhere.
The police were still waiting outside the school. We knew nothing about Eric
and Dylan's fete. But deep down, T knew how this was going to end.
Perhaps Eric and Dylan had dreamed oj dying in a glorious final shootout
with police, and were disappointed that none were coming in. No one will ever know.
Four hours after the shooting began, Eric and Dylan would be found dead in a
corner of the library — killed by self-inflicted gunshot wounds to the head.
The carnage they left was staggering. By now, Dave Sanders had succumbed to
his injuries, despite the efforts of students who dialed 91 f put up a sign in the
window saying "1 Bleeding To Death, " and waited for hours for help to come.
The ten library victims included Cassie Bernall, Steven Curnow, Corey
DePooter, Kelly Fleming, Matthew Kechter, Daniel Mauser, Isaiah Shoels, John
Tomlin, Lauren Townsend, and Kyle Velasquez. Nearly two dozen more students were
I knew Eric and Dyian were dead long before they announced it on TV Still,
actually hearing the newscasters say it made it real.
My friends were gone. They had mirdered other friends before they went. They
had set oflH^onis and shot at the cops.
Yesterday we had skipped class to eat lunch together at McDonald's.
I couldn't even get n^ mind around something like that.
Parents were gathering at Leawood Elementary School, waiting for lists to be put
up of kids who had been accounted for by the authorities. They waited for school
buses that might or might not have been carrying their children out ofdanger.
Some parents waited through the night, finally realizing after the last bus had left
that their children hadn't made it.
It wouldn't be until the next day that we would hear confirmed lists ofthe dead.
TTie bodies wouldn't even be removed from the school that night. Students and
parents alike could do little more than guess about who had lived and who hadn't.
Our femily survived the attack. But another nightmare was just beginning.
photo by Rob Merritt
Tlie exterior ofColLimbine High School near the west entrance. Eric Harris
and Dylan Klebold would begin their shooting ranpage ofApril 20, 1999
in the area near the top ofthe stairs at lefi before entering the school.
photo by Judy Brown
Dylan Klebold (lefi) and Brooks Brown, age eight, attend a meeting ofthe
photo by Judy Brown
Brooks (right) and Dylan enjoy a moment ofplaying together in the park
during their elementary school days.
photo by Judy Brown
As young boys in Littleton, one ofthe interests Brooks and Dylan shared
was a love of music. In this photo, the two sixth-grade boys perform in a
band at a local talent show. Brooks, left, was on saxophone, while Dylan
played the druins.
Dylan, age seventeen, shares a memory ofthe high school theatre program
as Brooks Brown records himbehind Blackjack Pizza, where Klebold and
Eric Hanis held part-time jobs, in late 1 998.
Dylan and Brooks blow a kiss to the camera.
Brooks, foreground, poses for the 1999 Columbine senior class photo,
with Eric and Dylan behind him By the time this photo was taken, in the
spring of 1999, Eric and Dylan were in the final stages of their plan to
attack the school.
For their second class photo, the seniors at Columbine were given the
chance to "get crazy" for the cameras. Here, Brooks, Eric, and Dylan
pretend to aim guns at the camera. While the gesture was made in good tun
at the time, one ofthe investigators in the Jeferson County Sheriffs Office
would later point to the photo as a reason to suspect Brooks as an
acconplice in the Columbine killings.
The Columbine High School yearbook photos of Eric Harris
Dylan Klebold (right)
AP/Wide World Photos
From let, author and filmiTiaker Michael Moore addresses the media
alongside Brooks Brown and Columbine shooting victims Richard
Castaldo (in wheelchair) and Mark Taylor outside the Kmart corporate
headquarters in Michigan in 200 1 . Moore recruited the Columbine
students to assist in a successful effi)rt to convince Kmart to remove
handgun ammimition fromits shelves.
photo by Rob Merritt
Brooks shares a lighthearted moment with his parents, Randy and Judy, at
the Browns' home in Littleton, Colorado.
Page from Randy Brown's police report, March. 1998,
Page from Randy Brown's police report, March, 1998.
-■5.vfc.jfaa.-.Aj^>a^.^.^Hcj ,ix>— ^- ■ -Vifc- ■•mrf a a^c - tK <— *a^- U4«y-...
_,€^ow. >4>jo--ttoa — tor- t^i*s;JJ^.*^*li./'^*c*^ _ o<_CS4U-vi'2*iSa^a__
Page from Randy Brown's police report. March, 1998.
photo by Rob Merritt
Two years after she was killed, flowers and cards continue to adorn the
gravesite of Colunfcine student Rachel Scott in Littleton, Colorado on
April 20, 2001. Rachel was one ofEric and Dylan's first victims.
PEOPLE HAVE ASKED ME IF, IN THOSE INITIAL HOURS AFTER THE massacre,
I stopped to wonder why Eric had let me leave the school. The truth is, the question
didn't even enter n^' mind until later. That day, n^' mind was solely occupied with
trying to find out who was still alive.
Trevor and I leff rr^ house and started driving around, looking for femiliar feces
anywhere we could find thcni II didn't matter who they were; every person we saw
was one more person who had survived. We went to Leawood Elerrentary, where lists
of students who were confirmed as alive and safe were being posted. We went to the
Perkins restaurant. We drove around the neighborhood looking for big groups of
No matter where we went, Td find somebody I knew. It didn't matter who it was;
we'd throw our arms around each other in reliefand cry.
I remember seeing people like Andy Robinson, Chris Logan, and Dan Berg. I
grabbed Zach Heckler in a massive hug.
" Thank God you're alive," we'd say.
There was one person we were looking for more than any other We'd heard a
rumor that Rachel Scott was among those who'd been killed. We'd been at home
watching helicopter footage outside the school, and lying near the exterior steps of
Columbine was the body of a girl who was wearing clothes just like those I'd seen
Rachel wearing earlier that day.
My brother Aaron was on the phone all afternoon, asking people ifthey knew
anything. I was sitting with rr^ friend Steve Partridge on our porch when Aaron ran
out to give us an update.
" Rachel Scott's dead," he said.
Aaron was just giving us a name. He didn't realize that we both knew Rachel, or
that Steve had dated Rachel for a long time. When Steve heard the news, he fell silent.
Then he collapsed.
We tried to hold out hope. We knew Aaron was getting his information fi-om
gossip; no names had been released yet by the police. There was still a chance.
That night, we scanned through every crowd. We asked around. "Have you seen
Rachel? Do you know ifshe made it out?" No one had an answer.
Rachel was special to me fcr one reason: she defied every e?q5ectation I'd ever had
of a Christian.
We had our first real conversation at State Qualifiers for speech and debate that
year. We'd seen each other around before that, but hadn't spoken much. In looking
back, that's kind of an odd thing; after all, we were both in speech, both actors in the
Columbine theatre program, and she'd been dating n^ fi-iend Steve for nearly a year.
Later she would go to Prom with Nick Baumgart. Yet through all that, we never
seemed to cross paths.
Part ofthe problem was that I knew Rachel was a devout Christian. I never made
it a secret in high school that I wasn't a religious person, and devout Christians used
to come after me and tell me I was going to hell. They would use quotes fi'omthe Bible
to throw insults at me. I'd seen them try to force their beliefe on other students,
guilting them into it, pressuring them to join up. They didn't want to hear what you
thought about God, or the world. All they wanted to hear was " Jesus Christ is
Savior" — and ifwe didn't agree, we weren't worth associating with.
I didn't want to be criticized for n^' beliefi. So I never thought I had a reason to
make conversation with Rachel Scott. At least, not until that afternoon at Speech
I'd stepped outside for a cigarette in between rounds; smokers generally tended
to congregate in one single area at contests. When I walked out, Rachel was there,
too, standing alone next to the building with a Marlboro Light.
" Hey," she said when she saw me. " How'd it go?"
We struck up a conversation; it wasn't long before the subject shifted over to
lailh. It's a topic I get into quilc olien with people. Yet as we spoke, I realized that
Rachel was diferent fromother kids at Columbine for one reason: she listened.
It was a first. I can't think ofany time before that when a Christian asked me about
rr^ beliefe without interrupting constantly, or running right over n^ ideas, or just
sitting there and snickering. Yet Rachel wasn't like that at all. Rachel listened to me
speak about Taoism and n^ problems with the Bible and the church. She was
genuinely interested, and didn't seemto judge me for it.
She talked about her own beliefe as well, but not in an attempt to convert me. She
was just ejq)laining, and I listened carefiilly, just as she had done for me. Then we
started casually debating the subject.
"Where does your faith in God come from?" I asked. "After all, you don't see
God, right? So how can you be sure that he really exists?"
" I can see him," she replied. " I know that God is real. I know it in n^ heart. You
can only believe in what you know to be true. You know your own truth. I know
mine. Everyone should be able to find that within themselves."
"But with most Christians I know, it's not like that," I said. "They think their
way is the only way to live, and when you tell themyou don't agree then they'll just
tell you that you're going to hell. 1 mean, seriously — do you believe that it's your
role as a Christian to try and save everyone else?"
Rachel shook her head. " It's not about that for me," she said. " I'm not trying to
go out there and convert people. I just want to be an example. I want to live life for
God, and let other people take fi-omthat whatever they want."
I took a drag ofn^ cigarette, milling that over.
" You ever read the Tao te Ching? " I asked.
Rachel shook her head no.
" Well, basically it argues that the greatest teacher teaches without teaching," I
continued. "I don't know. You kind of sound like you're not so mich Christian as
Rachel didn't say anything. Shejust smiled.
It amazed rre. The feet that we could sit there, two people on such opposite sides
ofthe spectrum of &ith, and talk openly about our diferences the way that we did — it
wasn't something I'd seen before at Coluniine. I couldn't get over how open and
honest Rachel Scott was. In n^' nrind, Rachel was an exanple of what the ideal
Christian should be.
Rachel's beliefe were strong, yet she accepted people who felt differently. She felt
that the path to spiritual enlightenment didn't mean scaring people, lecturing or
judging them She just lived her life the best way she knew how, and hoped other
people would follow her exanple.
Imagine what a better place this world could have been throughout history if
more people had shared Rachel Scott's viewpoint.
Rachel and I never talked about feith again afler that; we each knew where the
other stood, and stayed fiiends regardless. It was a refi'eshing change ofpace ^ fer as
Christians were concerned; I discovered that I really enjoyed her conpany.
The last time I saw her was on April 20. She'd just appeared in the last play ofthe
season, Smoke in the Room, in a role that had required her to cut her hair short and
dye it. She was defying people's ej^ectations to the end.
Rachel was eating lunch with another student, Richard Castaldo, when Eric
and Dylan began their attack.
Rachel and Richard were the first two people hit. Rachel was struck twice in the
legs and once in the torso; more bullets tore through Richard's spine, leaving him
What happened to Rachel next is a mystery. Richard's mother told NBC's
Dateline that when Richard first came out of surgery he described the scene in
detail. He said Rachel was approached by the shooters a second time and asked if
she believed in God. She said yes, and they killed her.
Later, Richard told police that he remembers Rachel lying on the ground,
crying, and that the shooters approached a second tinie but left him for dead.
However, he no longer remembered whether Rachel was asked about her faith in her
final moments. To this day he cannot recall what happened after he was shot.
"After he got the breathing tube out, he was crying and upset, telling me
through sobs how they taunted and teased her about God," Castaldo's mother,
Connie Michalik, told the Denver Rocky Mountain News on April 21, 2000. "Then
he heard a shot and he didn't know what happened to her. He asked me again this
morning: 'What did 1 say? Why didn't anybody write it down? 'He's asked me so
many times. Richard has cried a thousand tears for Rachel. He has so much guilt
My parents went to Dylan's flineral. It was a small afeir; only a handfiil ofpeople
bothered to come out, and the ones who did were mainly there in support of the
Klebold femily. I heard that there were some nice tributes made there.
Rachel's fiineral, the only one I attended in the wake ofColumbine, couldn't have
been any more diflerent. It took place in a packed church only a few blocks south of
Columbine, and was televised by CNN. The ratings during that iineral were higher
than anything else CNN had previously broadcast.
At first, 1 went to sit with the rest ofthe debate team With dirty looks and
whispered comments, they made it clear that they didn't want me there. These people,
who had known me fcr years, had been with me to debate competitions, had been
Rachel's and ny teammates, were now turning their backs on me because I had been
friends with Eric and Dylan.
" You're going to bum in hell," one ofthemtold rre.
I suppose that under difeent circumstances, I would have niade some retort. Here
we were, at a funeral for someone who had advocated kindness and acceptance; the
kids who called themselves her friends weren't exactly following her example. But I
didn't have the heart. I was too shocked. I just moved away from them and sat with
Steve and Doug.
Just a tew days ago, Steve and I had driven around looking for Rachel, hoping to
find her alive. Now she was here, in a closed casket at the front ofthe church. It still
There were several moments during that fiineral that truly were beautifol. Rachel's
sister did an exact recreation ofthe Christian dance Rachel had performed at the talent
show the year before, acconpanied by the song "Watch the Lanib and Who Nailed
When it carre tirre for Rachel's friends to speak, Nick Bauirgart gave a genuine,
from-the-heart speech that focused on the positive memories we had ofher
Her Irucncss to herselfwas amazing," Nick said. " She didn't let anybody afect
who she was. She didn't let anybody tell her that what she believed and who she was
wasn't okay. She was true to herself and because of that, she was true to everybody
else, hi a sense, she is still here. She always will be, and that smile will still be here . .
. I'm lucky to have known her. I'm fortunate to have been her friend, and I'm fortunate
to have called hern^Promdate. But I'mtruly blessed to have had her inn^ life."
I was really moved by the beauty of the service . . . until Bruce Porter, the
officiating minister, stepped up to give his speech.
Porter has since written a book called The Martyr's Torch: The Message oj the
Columbine Massacre. On the back cover ofthe book. Porter's bio describes himas " a
'man with a mission' to call Christians back to their ancient roots of fervent
dedication and radical passion for Christ no matter what the cost."
That mich was obvious at Rachel's fiineral. With the CNN cameras rolling, Porter
had come to turn the service into a recruiting rally.
"We've removed the Ten Commandments from our schools," he told us. "In
exchange, we've reaped selfish indiffirence and glorified hedonism We've told our
children that they were nothing more than highly evolved amoebae, accidentally
brought forth from a mid pool somewhere in time. And we wonder why so many of
themsee no intrinsic value to life.
" We removed prayer from our schools and we've reaped violence and hatred and
nwrder," Porter continued. " And we have the fruit ofthose activities befcre us now. I
want to say to you here today that prayer was established again in our public schools
last Tuesday!" Applause rang out as Porter's volume increased. Porter went on to call
Rachel a "martyr" who had now "dropped her torch and gone on to her eternal
reward." He started asking who would pick it up for her, encouraging young people
to " take your schools back."
" 1 want to know right now who will take up that torch," he said. " Let me see
you. Who will pick up Rachel's torch? Who will do it? Hold it high!"
People in the church began to stand up. Kids and parents were cheering. At the
podium, Porter was growing more feverish, more evangelical, as he started to address
the TV cameras.
"Hold up that torch right now!" he went on, his voice rising. "If you are
watching from some other place, stand up where you are. Stand up and say 'I won't be
a victim! I will lift that torch high! The love of Jesus!' I want you to know that by
doing that, you've declared a revolution!"
I sat there in stunned silence. This was wrong. To me, a fiineral should be about
loved ones remen4>ering the person they've lost, and saying goodbye. Yet Porter had
another goal in nrind. In one ofhis own e-mails before the fiineral — which he reprinted
in his book — the minister wrote. " CNN will be broadcasting fromthe fimeral as a part
ofa press pool, and there is every possibility that miUions will be joining with us as
we mourn Rachel and the other students who were slain. Pray that we will be able to
speak into the hearts of niiltiplied millions of young people the reality of Christ's
love for them. . ."
Porter was using the incident ofRachel's death to convert as many young people
to his feith as possible. This was a slap in the fece to the scores ofnon-Christian kids
who Rachel had befriended, including me.
Rachel was a Christian, yes. But she was all about acceptance, whether people
looked different, acted diferent, or had difeent beliefs. She was about reaching oui to
the less fortunate in school and making themteel welcome. Siic was about living true
to herself and helping otherpeople live true to themselves. She was about leading by
example rather than by sermons. These were ideals that could be appreciated by many
ofher peers, regardless oftheirfeith.
Porter noted in his speech that Rachel had reached out to people fromall walks of
life, and accepted them If he knew this, then he had to expect that people from all
walks oflife would be at her fiineral. Jewish. Agnostic. Atheist. People who were still
discovering their beliefi. This flineral was for all ofus to mourn together. It should not
have been for harvesting new followers and making political statements.
IfPorter had truly wanted to recognize Rachel's legacy, he could have pointed
out how so many people had come to the service that day, or how so many kids
wanted to speak in her memary. Perhaps he could have allowed more ofthemto do so.
Steve and I sat there for a rmment, staring at the hundreds of people around us
who were now standing and applauding. We didn't know what to say.
Then slowly. Steve stood up too, silent amidst the circus of cheering and
clapping. He turned back and looked at me.
" Rachel's torch," he said quietly. " Not his."
When he said that, I stood up too. In honor ofRachel.
At the end ofthe fiineral, as people were getting ready to file out, they asked the
feirdly to leave. No one was ejq)ecting what happened next.
They opened Rachel's casket.
There was Rachel. Dead. Her body, right there, in the casket for all to see. I don't
know what they were trying to show people by doing this, but in order to exit, you
had no choice but to walk right by it.
As we filed out, Doug was the first of our group to see her. He started crying. It
was hard to watch.
Steve was next. He saw Rachel's body and collapsed on the floor in tears. Here
was his foniKr girlfi"iend. who still rreant the world lo him, and his body just lailed
him Doug and I had to pick himback up and help himout ofthere. Ofcourse, when I
saw Steve lose it, I was righl behind him All the tears I hadn't cried up to that point
came gushing out, just like everybody else, as I saw Rachel lying there in that coffin.
As we walked out, holding Steve, there was a literal wall of cameras and reporters
waiting forus. Taking pictures ofus, looking at us, videotaping us.
We just wanted it to be oven
THE DAYS AFTER THE MURDERS WERE A BLUR. I WANDERED AROUND in
a daze most ofthe time, trying to conprehend the nightmare that had hit all ofus.
There were no answers to be feund.
hnagine your own best friend. Someone you've known for almost your whole life.
Someone who used to laugh and tell you jokes, and showed you his new Wolfbadge
from Cub Scouts, and chased frogs with you around the creek behind your grade
school on Friday afternoons. Someone who, just yesterday, you ditched school with.
Someone you always thought you knew.
Now imagine that, fi-omout ofnowhere, that friend turns around and guns down
over a dozen people. Classmates. Friends. People who are close to you.
It's something you could never have seen in your wildest nightmare, yet there it
is. On the TV the media are talking about your friends the same way they talk about
Ted Bundy or Charles Manson. Investigative specials are tossing out details about
your friend's childhood like some kind of Twilight-Zone-tinged episode of This Is
Your Life. When your mind tries to take it in and make sense ofit all, you realize that
you can't. Hell, you can't even ask your friend for an ejq)lanation. Because he put a
bullet in his brain right after he did it.
They'd gunned down Rachel. They'd gunned down Danny. Then they'd blown
their own brains out right in the fijcking library.
No one could have e?^lained it. No one could have known.
Or could they? Could I? I knew Eric was dangerous. I knew from those Web
pages. Those rants Eric had posted, the "Rebel Missions" he'd documented, the
boihbs, the threats. His desire to kill rre a year ago, before we finally made peace. Had I
not gone fer enough? Had I missed a chance to intervene?
There was no way to collect rr^ thoughts, either No matter where I went, the
scene was the same: reporters everywhere, police asking questions, classmates crying.
Every TV channel showed Columbine exclu-sives, or Eric and Dylan's smiling feces,
or analysts debating what the tragedy represented to society. Psychiatrists were
showing up at gatherings, wanting us to come up and hug them, to tell them what we
were thinking, what we were Icciing, to pour our hearts out. We got stares from the
people who didn't know what to say, tears fromthe people who did.
It seemed to me that I spent most ofthose first few days crying. The people who
saw me then say that I was like some kind ofzontie, physically there but with no life
in eyes. When I wasn't nuni), I was curled up in a ball, sobbing. Not like me at all,
believe me. But then, I really wasn't n^self again for a long time.
The only place I really found solace was with a pen. The day after the killings, in
the midst ofthe media barrage, I put thoughts onto paper for the first time.
April 20, 1999
Today the school became one, but with fifteen less
Gaining only demons, meant to anger, to depress
We handled those demons, and rose over our hate
To see that finding love was all hut too late
The ones that had fallen took from us their joy
Their sweet innocence of being a girl, being a boy
The ones who remained grew old in a day
For the mistakes of two boys, the rest had to pay
As we lookback over the smiles and the tears
We know our memories will destroy the pain, over the years
Myself, I know, has been dealt an insane hand
But I know, eventually, I must take a stand
They may call us Columbine — in name we are
But the real name we earned surpasses Columbine by far
The only name I care about that the media was giving
Is the truth about who we are: WE THE LIVING.
There were still seventeen days lefi until graduation. We didn't know what was
going to happen — whether the year would be written off" conpletely, if we'd be
attending another school, if anyone could focus on schoolwork in the wake ofwhat
had happened. We didn't even know ifColumbine itselfwould remain standing. Some
argued that if the school was destroyed, Eric and Dylan would have "won," while
others said the memory would forever taint the building.
The night after the mirders, administrators asked Coluniine students to gather at
West Bowles Comuinity Church, not fer from the school. The teachers were going to
let us know what had been decided.
We learned that Columbine High School was fer too damaged for us to return. It
was probably a good thing, anyway. Tliere was no way that some folks could set foot
back inside that building. Instead, students would be finishing out the school year at
The teachers tried to tell us how we should be feeling about this. That we'd make
it through. That " we are all Coluniine." They were trying to help.
But we didn't need to be told what we were going through. We already knew. We
were the ones who had lost classmates. We were the ones who were seeing photos of
our friends' dead bodies on the front page ofthe newspaper; No one needed to talk us
through how we were feeling. It was already there.
Eventually the teachers announced that they were leaving to discuss other
matters. Students were sitting there, acting like they didn't care what happened to
themnext. Everyone was in shock.
Then something happened.
One kid got up and began speaking into the microphone. I don't remeniier
anymore who it was, or what he said. But it caught people's attention. At last we were
hearing fromour own. It started a chain reaction. Another kid got up. Then another
A couple of kids who saw rre there said I should get up and speak. Fmnot sure
what made me do it, but sorrething in me agreed.
I walked up to the microphone, and looked out into that sea oftears and red feces.
These were people who had ignored me in the school hallways only days before. Now
their eyes were trained on me. Waiting for what I would say.
I had nothing prepared. I just let n^selfgo.
I'd been trained through debate to keep emotions in check while I was
speaking; up there at that microphone, it was all I could do to choke back tears. I tried
to make it clear to everyone that what had happened on April 20 had happened to us,
not to outsiders or school officials. I said that we shouldn't let anyone tell us how to
feel about this, or how to react.
I told everyone that we were in this together. "But," I added, "It's US — the
students — ^who decide what we're going through. We need to think about this for
ourselves. Don't let the teachers dictate our thoughts to us anymore." It was our
decision, I said. Each one ofus could determine our own fete.
I heard students applauding as I walked off I hoped I'd said something
meaningfiil. Then I collapsed and cried on the floor ofthe church.
In the days that followed, I spent a lot of n^ time sitting in front of the TV
watching new reports come in. The things that I saw were news to me as much as they
were to the rest ofthe world. They reported that Eric and Dylan had been planning
this massacre for over a year, with Eric keeping a journal that detailed what was in
store. It was reported that, had Eric and Dylan survived, they wanted to "hijack a
plane and crash it into New York City."
I was hearing all ofit for the first time.
The public, of course, wanted an eneii^. They wanted someone to punish. You'd
think that by killing themselves Eric and Dylan had denied them that enen^. But they
found two anyway, in Mark Manes and Philip Duran.
Philip had worked with Eric and Dylan over at Blackjack Pizza. He told thern,
when they were looking for sonKone over eighteen who would buy guns for them,
that he knew where they could get their hands on a TEC-9. He put themin touch with
Mark, who sold the gun to Dylan for S500.
When that came out, the public was in an uproar. Philip and Mark were instantly
branded as killers, and everyone wanted their heads. They were both arrested and
convicted; each was sentenced to six years in prison.
There was also Robyn Anderson.
Immediately after the shootings, a lot ofpeople reached out to Robyn. After all,
she had been Dylan's Prom date. While Dylan hadn't had a girlfriend, a lot ofpeople
figured that Robyn was the closest thing to it. Kind of ironic; so many people
wouldn't talk to me or Chris Morris or Zach Heckler, because we'd been friends with
Eric and Dylan. But Robyn they embraced wholeheartedly.
Then the truth carre out about what Robyn had done. Around the same time that
the police found out about the TEC-9, they also discovered how Eric and Dylan had
acquired their other weapons. Robyn admitted that she had given Eric and Dylan the
weapons they needed to slaughter the class of 1999.
Did she fece charges like Mark and Philip did? No. Not one. To this day, Robyn
has never been charged with anything. Mark provided Eric and Dylan with one
weapon, and he's in jail until 2005. Robyn got them three guns, and she's at home.
Funny how our system works.
The media were on top of these developments, along with everything else that
was coming to light in the days after Columbine. Plenty of people in Littleton
criticized the media for being too invasive and violating their privacy. But to be
honest, I understood their predicament. They were good people who didn't want lo be
there any more than we did, but they had a job to do. There were some isolated
examples of assholes, sure, but most of the people I met in the media were pretty cool
to me. And it was their work that kept information coming out. If it had been up to the
police and the school, any reports of bullying would have been suppressed, and the
police would have kept quiet about our Emily's report on the Web pages. The
questions about police response would have been pushed aside. It was the media
who fought to keep that from happening.
I found rill's elf talking to quite a few reporters in those first few days. After first
interview with Ward Lucas, they just started coming out of the woodwork. They
inainly wanted to hear n^ story about the Web pages. They wanted to know more
about these " wamings" the killers had left behind.
They also wanted to know about my last conversation with Eric. " What did he
say? Did you see any guns with him? Why did he let you go? Why did he tell you to
leave the school? Did you know what was going to happen?" They wanted to know
ifthe rumors about bullying and cruelty at Coluniine were true, and ifthey'd played
any part in Eric and Dylan going over the edge.
I told them the truth; I didn't censor n^self Other kids were sugar-coating
Columbine, making it sound like this peace&l, tranquil land of flowers and honey
that Eric and Dylan had just walked into and shattered. "Oh, sure, there werejocks
and everything," they'd say. " But it was never that bad. We just can't understand how
this happened in a school like ours."
If people wanted to know what Columbine was like, I'd tell them I'd tell them
about the bullies who shoved the kids they didn't like into lockers, or called them
"feggot" every time they walked past. I'd tell them about the jocks who picked
relentlessly on anyone they considered to be below them The teachers who turned a
blind eye to the brutalization of their pupils, because those pupils weren't the
I told them about the way those who were "di&rent" were crushed, and tights
happened so regularly outside school that no one even paid attention. 1 told what it
was like to live in constant fear ofother kids who'd gone out ofcontrol, knowing fiiU
well that the teachers would turn a blind eye. Afier all, those kids were their fevorites.
We were the troublemakers.
"Eric and Dylan are the ones responsible for creating this tragedy," I told them
" However, Colun±>ine is responsible for creating Eric and Dylan."
As 1 would later learn, this wasn't what I was supposed to say. 1 was supposed to
junp on the bandwagon like everyone else. I was supposed to put aside what we'd all
experienced over the past few years and pretend that Coluni>ine was a wonderfiil
place. Do you want to know the truth behind the slogan " We Are Coluniine"? It's
simple: We were still the same Coluni>ine, where rumors determine truth and you
don't go against the group mentality.
It was almost sad, the way some ofn^ classmates defended the school. It was like
an abused kid whose fether dies after years of torturing him That kid's not going to
tell you the truth about his dad. He's going to defend his :&ther and talk about how
great he was. That's basically where things were with Colunbine. Few people would
speak the truth about the way it was. It was in&riating.
To be feir, I admit that there was one time I lied to the media to protect someone.
Then again, when you consider who it was that I lied to, you can't exactly blame me. It
was the day that Inside Edition came knocking on n^ door.
I said before that the media was pretty cool to me, and they were only there
because they had to be. However, Inside Edition did not fit that description. Other
reporters were moving carefiilly, trying to be sensitive when they talked to us. Inside
Edition was there for one thing only, and that was the big scoop. We were all seeing
pain and suffering. They were seeing dollar signs.
A few years ago, some friends of mine had made a video for a class at Columbine. It
was a promotional thing for the play we were doing, Get Smart. And the promo had
to do with this evil guy blowing up the school.
In the video, the guy points a milk carton at the school and fires a laser out of it. It
was over-the-top. It was funny. No one could have possibly taken it seriously. But in
the wake of the Columbine massacre, people were looking for anything that might
look suspicious; because the guy in the video was wearing a black trench coat, it was
immediately assumed that Eric and Dylan must have modeled themselves after it.
So Inside Edition showed up at irry door, and said that they had a copy ofthe
video. " Do you know anything about it?" they asked.
" Well, yeah," I said.
" Did you help to direct it?"
" No," I replied. " 1 didn't have anything to do with it. I've just seen it."
They seeiiied disappointed. " Oh. Well, we're looking for someone who did make
this video who will talk to us. Because we're pretty sure that Eric and Dylan saw this
video, and that was what inspired them"
Then I got worried. One ofthe guys who had made that video was Scott Fuselier.
His fether Dwayne was part of the FBI's Columbine investigation team. Inside
Edition didn't know that yet, but they would figure it out before too long.
I liked Scott and his dad a great deal. " Ifthis comes out," I thought, " Scott's dad
will be absolutely crucified."
So I lied. I said, " Well, now that you mention it, yeah, I did help to make it a little
bit." It was bullshit, sure, and lots ofpeople have told me I shouldn't have said it. But
in n^' nrind, it was a choice between watching Scott and his dad getting completely
screwed — along with everyone else who had been involved in making the video — or
trying to take the blarre for them After all, for me, it was no big deal. But, I thought, if
Inside Edition reported that this FBI investigator's son had made a video that
inspired the killers, their lives would be over.
Of course, I didn't stop the media fi-om figuring out who had made the video, and
questions were raised, but fortunately Dwayne Fuselier remained on the case. Scott
thought I was just clamoring for attention. I've never been able to tell him the real
In those early days aflcr Columbine, the people who had been fi-iends with Eric
and Dylan stuck together, mainly because the rest ofthe world hated us. In the same
way that people wanted the book thrown at Mark Manes and Philip Duran, our
community made us guilty by association. Losing our fi"iends was difficult enough as
it was. Imagine listening to your classmates whisper that you were in on it, too.
We didn't really hang out. But when we'd see each other around, we'd feel a
nwtual respect, just for getting through it all. Often we wouldn't say anything to each
other. Just a look, or a nod, was all we needed.
We were torn by conflicting emotions. On the one hand, Eric and Dylan had been
our fiiends. They were dead. They were gone. On the other hand, they had killed
thirteen other people. People we had been close to. We had to make a decision; How
should we grieve?
Many were struggling with that question. Crosses were erected on Rebel Hill,
overlooking the school, that represented each of the lives lost: fifieen crosses in all.
Those who put them up wanted to recognize that Eric and Dylan were victims too,
even ifthey were victims ofthemselves.
Several parents found this objectionable. Brian Rohrbough, who had lost his son
Danny that day, was so iniiriated thai he climbed Rebel Hill and posted signs on the
crosses that read "Unrepentant Murderer." After asking the police to remove the
crosses and getting nowhere, Rohrbough enlisted the help of a few other parents and
took themdown himself cutting theminto tiny pieces and destroying them
At first I was angry about that. The crosses weren't put there to honor Eric and
Dylan; people were just paying their respects to the dead. However, looking back on
it, I respect what Brian and the parents of the other victims were going through, too.
Their sons had been murdered, and Eric and Dylan were responsible. For them, the
situation was about as black and white as you can get. I realize now that crosses for
Eric and Dylan should have been erected in a spot £ir away fromthose of their victims.
People ask me all the time whether Eric and Dylan should be forgiven for what
they did. My response is absolutely not. Those two killed people. It doesn't get
worse than that.
Will I always rerrember the good times with them? Absolutely. I'll always
remen±)er the bad times, too. fhey were rr^ fi-iends, and nothing will change that. Bui
as &r as forgiveness goes, that's not something I amprepared to do. What they deserve
is remenirance. Not forgiveness. There's a difeence.
I stand accused
SHORTLY AFTER THE COLUMBESIE MASSACRE, A MEMORIAL SERVICE was
held at Red Rocks Amphitheater on the north side of Denver. Our choir would be
singing there, which meant this would be n^^ first oflScial school fiinction since the
shooting. I didn't want to go, but n^ parents convinced me that it would be good for
me to see everybody again.
I arrived at the theater and went around backstage to sit with n^ fi-iends in choir.
That was the first time I heard it.
People were whispering about me.
This was di&rent from Rachel's funeral, where people hixln't wanted anything to
do with anyone who'd been fiiends with Eric and Dylan. These people were talking
about me specifically. I heard the word " mirderer" being thrown around.
There had been rumblings before. Through the grapevine, n^' brother had learned
that at Matt Kechter's fimeral, a few of the football players had been talking about
getting together and coming after me. I figured they were just talking in the heat ofthc
moment, so 1 didn't worry too much about it. But this was the first time 1 had heard
people actually suggesting that 1 had somehow been in on what had happened.
No one said anything to fece. But as I sat there, I could hear whispers behind
me. My name. Eric and Dylan. Questions. Suggestions that I knew something.
I tried to shut it out.
Standing in fi'ont of us on the stage, Principal DeAngelis told the crowd that
there was so mich love at Coluni>ine, that we would get through this together. At the
same time, I heard it behind me:
" Brooks is a murderer."
The whispers were no longer conversational. They were directed at rre. 1 was
supposed to o\ crhcar Ihem. And I didn't know what to say or do in response.
By the time superintendent Jane Hammond started her speech, I couldn't take it. I
knew I was on the stage, in fiiU view of everyone, but I didn't care. I stood up and left.
Less than two weeks after the shooting, iny femily got a call from the Coluntine
school counselor, Mr. Collins. Everyone was gearing up to head for Chatfield High
School and finish out the year. The plan was that Columbine students would attend
fcr one half of the day, and. Chatfield students would attend fcr the other half
However, there were some people who wouldn't be welcome at any time.
" We believe it would be in Brooks's best interest not to return to school,"
Collins told us on our answering machine.
My mom called back, demanding to know why. When she finally got through to
Collins, he wouldn't clarify the school's wishes. He kept repeating, simply, " We just
think it would be in Brooks's best interest not to return."
I wasn't the only one to get that rressage. Tliere were over a dozen kids, all friends
ofEric and Dylan, who were asked not to return. Most ofthemtook the advice.
I was ready to go back. However, to put it bluntly, the school made me an offir I
couldn't refuse. They told me that if I agreed not to return, I would still graduate with
passing grades in all ofrti^ classes.
1 was lailing a couple ofclasses at the time. To be guaranteed passing grades and a
diploma, sinply for staying at home — it just seemed to make more sense to accept the
That's not to say that I never went back. Once classes started, I made a briefvisit
to Chatfield. I needed to see n^' fiiends again. When I walked in, the police, who were
standing guard at the time, paid close attention to me.
The police had been interviewing Eric and Dylan's fiiends at length ever since
the shooting. Sheriff John Stone was convinced that two kids could not have brought
in by themselves the sheer arr»unt ofej^losives found at the scene. There nust have
been acconplices, he kept telling the press, and that's why the police were talking to
all ofEric and Dylan's associates.
I'd already been visited by detectives before I went to Chatfield. They kept asking
about Eric's last words to me outside the school. They wanted to know what had
made me walk away. At the time, I thought it was because they were trying to
reconstruct Eric's movements. As I would later learn, their motives were nxich more
My classmates knew that the police were interviewing guys like Nate and Zach
and me. So it was assumed that we must be suspects. After all, ifwe were friends with
Eric and Dylan, then we mist have known that the attack was coming, right? Never
mind that n^ little brother was shot at in the cafeteria. Never mind that Eric had
threatened to kill me only a year before. As fiiends of the killers, some people's logic
ran, wc must have been killers, too.
Maybe I should have thought about that before I went to Chatfield, but at the time
I just didn't care. I walked in, ignoring the cops who were watching me. The guard
gave me a visitor's badge and a bumper sticker with " We Are Colunfcine" written on
it. Then I was given a two-officer escort to walk around the school.
Not only was the escort incredibly demeaning, but it reinforced the impression
that I was guilty in some way in the minds of those who already suspected me. I was
just digging rry hole deeper. I didn't care at the time; I just wanted to see ray friends.
In retrospect, though, I shouldn't have gone through with it.
I didn't stay long. People didn't really talk to rm. Kids I had called n^' friends
were looking at me frmny now. They didn't want me there.
In Littleton, I was making enemies left and right. Bui in the national media, the
reporters just kept coming. I was doing interviews all over the place, from Fox News
to the Today Show to TomBrokaw. I would talk to three, sometimes four reporters a
Yet I never once did an interview for money. I never sold videotape footage ofEric
or Dylan, like one ofn^ classmates did. I wasn't looking to be femous. I just wanted
people to understand what had happened, so I accepted a lot of interview requests.
There were two things that femily wanted people to understand: first, that
there had been clear warning signs beforehand, and second, that Coluniine High
School was a much worse place than everyone was letting on.
We were telling people the truth, and we were resented for it.
The police were already under the microscope as it was. They were being
criticized for not responding quickly enough to the shootings, making high estimates
of the dead before any nurrbers were released, leaving the bodies in the school
overnight, taking too long to reach the wounded, and leaving parents to learn about
their children's murders in the newspaper instead of calling themto tell them So they
were playing the game of damage control right from the start, trying to make people
believe that there was no way they could have seen this coming, that no one knew
how deal with it, that there had been no warning.
Now from out of the blue comes this Brooks Brown kid, talking about some
report he filed a year ago about Eric Harris threatening his life and building pipe
bonis and vandalizing his neighborhood.
They knew I wasn't lying. They knew the media was listening to me, and the
pressure on Ihcm was increasing. If they were to keep n^' story out of the spotlight,
they had to discredit femily, and fest.
SheriffStone fcund away.
I was with rr^ parents when the call came. NBC reporter Dan Abrams told us he
had just conducted an interview with SheriffStone and wanted to give us a chance to
respond before it aired. Within hours, we were sitting with Abrains in front of a TV
"I'm convinced there are more people involved," Stone had told NBC. "Brooks
Brown could be a possible suspect. Mr. Brown, as well as several others, are in the
When Abrams inquired about Eric's Web pages, Stone dismissed them as a
" subtle threat," nothing more. Such things wouldn't have been prosecutable, he said.
He also dismissed my parents' claims ofhaving reported themin the first place, asking
why rry parents would have "allowed" me to be friends with Eric Harris if they
thought he was dangerous enough to report to police.
" Why did Eric Harris warn Mr Brown to leave the school on the day he was
starting all the shooting?" he said. " Is this a smoke screen?"
My parents were fiirious. My dad lashed out at the sheri^ saying if anyone was
trying to create a smoke screen, it was him
" He should be ashamed ofhimself n^ dad said of Stone. " They're looking fcr a
scapegoat. Tliey're going to get sued and they know it, and they're looking for
someone to blarre it on."
As for me, I sat there in conplete disbelief staring at that image ofSheriffStone on
the TV I didn't know what to say.
Stone's allegations first appeared on NBC, but it didn't take long for them to
appear in other media outlets. Shortly after his television appearance, the Jefferson
County sheriff repeated his suspicions to USA TODAY.
"/ believe Mr. Brown knows a lot more than he has been willing to share with
us, " Stone told the newspaper. "He's had a long-term involvement with Harris and
Klebold, and he was the only student warned to stay away from the school on the
day of the shooting."
On May 6, the Denver Post reiterated Stone's claim that Brooks was a
"possible suspect" and that Brooks's statements had been "inconsistent. "
Stone offered no evidence to hack this assertion during his interviews, although
Jefferson County Under sheriff John Dunaway offered an explanation to Westword
reporter Alan Prendergast nearly a year later. According to the article, Dunaway
claimed there were "plenty of reasons " to suspect Brooks.
"This Brown person is telling us that he is in direct personal contact with
Harris moments before the killings begin, "Dunaway told Westword. "And Harris
tells him that he likes him and that he should leave the school. Then he shows up in
a class photo with Harris and Klebold, and they're all pointing fingers at the
camera, as if they had guns."
The comment was a reference to the "goofy" class photo that the Columbine
High School class of 1999 had posed for. Yet, in Dunaway's eyes, this sort of
evidence perfectly justified Stone's remarks to the media.
If Stone's comments were an attempt to discredit the Brown family — as they
believe — then it was an extremely effective ploy. It wouldn 't take long for Brooks to
learn just how much damage the sheriff had caused.
Reporters showed up at my house soon after that first broadcast. Hiey wanted to
know n^ response.
I reiterated rr^ parents' claim that the accusation was just a smoke screen. I
reminded reporters that there was no evidence against roe. I said that neither the FBI
nor the district attorney was calling ne a suspect. I said Stone was making himself
That was n^ public fece. Away from the cameras, Stone's words were destroying
There were already people at school who believed I had something to do with the
killing, just because I had been friends with Eric and Dylan. Now people in the
commmity were questioning m/ innocence, loo. People who had been undecided, or
who had known nothing about me before, suddenly saw me as "that guy who the
police think was in on it."
Shortly after the NBC report, I was walking through a parking lot with Trevor
Dolac when a girl leaned out the window ofher car and started shouting at me.
" You fiicking murderer!" she yelled. " Get the hell out ofhere!"
Once I was at a stoplight when a car fiill of Colun4>ine students pulled up next to
me and started screaming " Killer!"
Others didn't call me names, but still kept their distance. One night I was with n^
cousin at the drive-through window of Dairy Queen. It was feirly late, and there
weren't any other customers in line. When I pulled up, the enployee at the window
took one look at me and his eyes got real wide.
He gave us our order without saying another word to me. As we were pulling
away, I saw him go to the doors and lock them. He stood there staring at us until we
Those sorts of things started happening with more frequency as the days
progressed. I'd be walking along and hear " asshole" or "killer" yelled at me from
passing cars. Ater a while, I learned to tune it out.
I was having trouble sleeping. I was having trouble eating. I wondered ifat some
point Stone would move this witch hunt to the next level and have me arrested.
I felt helpless.
The police were pressuring me to take a lie-detector test about my involvement in
Columbine. I would have been willing, except that people around me imrrediately
advised against it. A lie detector is a sensitive piece of equipment. Administrators of
the test wrap a sensor around your chest to time your breathing. They put pulse
sensors on each finger. They look fer places where your heart skips a beat during a
response, or your breathing becomes shallow, to determine whether you're lying.
My femily still feared that the police were trying to put the blame on me, and
didn't trust them to administer the test feirly. Ifl took the test, and their administrator
made any adjustments to the machine to make me fell or even seem evasive, it would
My aunt, an attorney in Michigan, was the first person to advise me of this.
Friends weighed in on the subject as well. Their consensus, based on what had
happened so fer, was that the police couldn't be trusted.
Nonetheless, I wanted to clear my name, and by not taking a lie detector test, I
looked like I had something to hide. So n^ femily came up with a compromise. We
paid to have an independent third party conduct the test.
Alverson & Associates, a polygraph conpany based in Denver, agreed to our
request. On May 11, administrator David Henigsman hooked me up to the sensors
and began asking questions. He started with simple things, like "Is your name
Brooks Brown?" and "Are you a student at Colun4>ine High School?" Then he
began asking me about the attack.
He asked ifl had ever seen Eric and Dylan's pipe bonis, or ifl had ever helped to
make one. He asked if I had any prior knowledge ofwhat was going to happen. He
asked whether I had any reason lo lie.
We gave the police the results, including a signed statement from Alverson that I
had been truthfiil. The police weren't satisfied. They wanted the video of the test, the
conplete transcript, and all computer data. We refiised. My dad told them, " Look,
Alverson is a trusted name that has been used all over the country. Ifthis isn't going
to convince you, then nothing will. We don't owe you anything else at this point."
Even though Stone had named ne as a possible suspect, n^ room was never
searched. Neither was my car. My conputer wasn't seized. These steps were taken with
other acquaintances of Eric and Dylan, even though their names were never given to
the press as possible suspects. They weren't with me.
Around the middle of May, n^ parents got a phone call from the producers of The
Oprah Winfrey Show. Oprah had already done one show about Columbine, where she
had spoken with parents ofthe victims. Now she wanted to hear fromme about what
had happened with Eric's Web pages.
My momtumed down the invitation at frrst; she didn't want people to think we
were using the tragedy to meet Oprah Winfrey or to get fimous.
The problem was, several media outlets had stopped listening to us about Eric's
Web pages. Since the police were denying that we had talked with them, and Stone
was suggesting that I'd been in on the attack, they weren't believing n^ femlly
anymore. We realized that this show was a chance to get our story out there. So. alter
fiirther consideration, we agreed.
We didn't care about being on TV We just wanted to get the truth out. We wanted
people to know that if something like this could happen at Coluni>ine, it could
happen anywhere. All around, we were hearing that nusic had caused Coluniine, or
video garres had caused Columbine. We had to counter that.
People needed to know that bullying and injustice had caused this. Parents and
administrators not being attentive to the needs of their kids had caused this. We
didn't want anyone else to go through what our comnainity had suffered. We wanted
to help stop Columbine fromhappening again.
I also had the opportunity to speak up in n^ defense, to answer the accusations
before a national audience.
We appeared on the show May 21. Oprah's producers provided the tickets to
Chicago, where the show is taped. I was actually nervous about getting on a plane;
I've always hated flying. Nonetheless, after the events of the past month, leaving
Littleton behind for a little while was a relief
It was hard to make it through the taping. Only a few days before, I had finally
come to grips with the idea thai Eric and Dylan really were dead, that 1 would never
be able to confront them with what they had done, would never have that outlet for
rr^ pain and confusion. It had only been a month since the shootings; n^ emotions
were still raw.
I thought I was prepared to talk, but then the taping began. Immediately the
producers played a "montage" tape that showed our comnxinity in mourning, video
footage of Dylan, and a general review of the events of April 20. At the end, Oprah
projected the drawing I'd made when Dylan and 1 were in grade school. It showed
two friends holding hands, with a caption underneath that said, "What scares me
most is ifDylan does boast that he isn't n^ friend."
Seeing it all projected up there, I felt all the pain coming back. It was all I could
do not to start crying all over again. And it was right at that moment that the video
ended and the lights came up on me.
" Brooks still cannot believe his boyhood fiiend has done this," Oprah said,
turning to me.
I nodded, and took a breath.
" And I know that the Klebolds, iflhey had known about Eric's Web page, ifthey
had known anything about any oFthis — Ihcy would have been all over it," I said.
My mom went on to explain how wc had turned over the Web pages, and the
police hadn't followed up on them My dad told Oprah about the di&rent options the
police could have pursued. I talked about last conversation with Eric, the
atmosphere of the school, and how I was still trying to understand what had
We were joined during the show by Gavin DeBecker, an expert on predicting
violence and author of the book Protecting the Gift: Keeping Children and
Teenagers Safe. DeBecker was quick to criticize SheriffStone for his comments.
"1 think what the sherifi's comments about Brooks seemed to indicate, when he
said he may be a suspect, is that typical exanple of institutional BS that says ' those
people know something about our department, and I want to now reduce their
credibility,'" DeBcckcr said.
Instead of finding the easiest ways to point fingers and avoid blame, DeBecker
said, people need to look deeper for the answers. He suggested that kids in n^
generation had " grown up with death in a way that you and I never did."
" This is their world," he said. " Hiese boys give us all the opportunity to look at
ourselves.... The shooting gives us the opportunity to say, 'Hey, what's this about?'
Something's clearly diffirent here when boys are going into high schools and doing
this. We have an opportunity now."
Oprah encouraged people to learn fi'omwhat had happened at Columbine.
" I'mthinking ifwe don't learn fi-omthis, we'll see it again," she said.
Those words echoed my own feelings. Since we had been denied the chance to
ask Eric and Dylan why they had done what they'd done, we would have to learn on
My fimily's appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show helped get the word out.
Other shows invited us to appear as well. However, one particular appearance wound
up felling through.
I had been invited to participate in a group talk with President Bill Clinton in
early June. Tlie discussion, called "Kids and Guns," would have Clinton presiding
over a panel ol leens fi"omaround the country. It would be televised on ABC's Good
The night before I was going to gel on a plane for Washington, D.C., the network
called to rescind n^ invitation. I had been removed because as " a witness in an active
investigation," I would not be allowed to enter the White House. A diffirent student
fromColuni)ine wound up attending in ny place.
When they told me that, I just laughed. That was all I could do.
The day after our appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show aired, graduation
cerermnies were held for the Class of 1999. We tried to make it seem as normal as
possible. My femily posed for photos with me in ny robe before we left for the
ceremony. My parents told me how proud they were.
Still, there was no getting past the shadow that hung over that day. The ceremony
was being televised nationally. Everyone was watching us.
Principal DeAngelis gave a speech to the 437 kids that were graduating that day.
"Two of the graduating seniors of the Class of 1999 and one of the feculty
rrembers are no longer with us," he said. " Their lives were cut down too short. Their
lives were fiill of courage and hope and enthusiasm We will never forget that they
loved us as mich as we loved them Each ofus will carry the spirit oflsaiah Shoels,
Lauren Townsend, and Dave Sanders into the fiiture."
Valeen Schnurr, Jeanna Park, and Lisa Kreutz, all of whom had been wounded at
Colunibine, were there to receive their diplomas. Lauren Townsend's femily walked
across the stage to accept her diploma.
1 felt drained afterwards. My parents gave rre a hug, and then I stepped away for a
moment, to be alone with n^ thoughts. When 1 did so, I became aware of someone
standing behind rre. It was Principal DeAngelis.
I hadn't spoken to himsince the shootings.
" How are you, Brooks? " he asked.
I shrugged. "I'm doing." Seeing as how the adnrinistration had asked me not to
retum to school, I really didn't feel like talking to him
" What did you think ofn^f speech?" he asked.
I paused and looked at him
" I thought it was bad," I said afier a moment.
DeAngelis looked taken aback. " What?"
" Look, fifteen people died that day,'" I said. " Not just the kids that you named up
there. We lost people that day that you didn't even count. That your school cost the
lives of Avoiding the truth doesn't change it."
" 1 just thought it would make it nicer for these kids," DeAngelis said. " Easier to
" You're wrong," I said. I turned and walked away.
DeAngelis followed me. He'd been reading the papers; he knew femily had
been speaking out against the atmosphere at Colunijine. "What did I do?" he asked
nK. " Why are you and your parents so upset with me?"
I could have told him For four years, the administration had turned a blind eye to
the torment the unpopular kids suffired every day. They had allowed that atmosphere
of hale and cruelty to exist. And now — even as DeAngelis gave speech after speech
about Columbine being " fiill of love" — the school had asked me and the rest of Eric
and Dylan's friends to just " go away" after the shootings. The words he had said to
the cameras did not reflect reality.
I didn't feel like fighting with him about it, though. Graduation was over. I was
done with that school now.
I walked away fromDeAngelis and rejoined n^ femily.
At the same time students were graduating from Columbine, Sheriff Stone told
the Denver Post he was "bowing out of the media maelstrom. "
Stone's accusation against Brooks wasn't the only thing he'd done that was
attracting criticism. From the beginning. Stone made blunders and comments to
the media that were either uninformed or flat-out incorrect.
On the day of the shooting, Stone said there were "up to twenty-five dead, " even
though parents were still at Leawood Elementary waiting for word on their
children. Stone claimed that Eric and Dylan tried three times to escape the school
and were turned back by gunfire each time. The official report from the sheriffs
office later indicated that no such thing had happened.
Early in the investigation, Stone spoke about how he believed the parents of
Eric and Dylan should he held accountable. Those words might have scared off the
Harrises from cooperating with investigators ; they demanded immunity from
prosecution before they would consent to police interviews, and when that immunity
was denied, they refused to talk.
He also implied that three students who were detained outside of the school on
the day of the shooting might be involved. The three students identified themselves
as the "Splatter Punks." They said they were only there because they had heard
about the shootings on the radio and come to the school out of curiosity.
Stone told authorities he suspected them "because the shootings were not on
the radio at that time." Yet his department's own official spokesman pointed out
that the students had already been cleared. Stone wound up holding a midnight
press conference to tell reporters that what he'd said earlier that day was wrong.
In a May 7, 1999 article, "Colorado Sheriff to Stop Talking to Reporters,"
Washington Post writer Tom Kenworthy shared concerns from local authorities
about Sheriff Stone.
"To some senior law enforcement officials here, none of whom will comment
publicly, Stone is violating a cardinal rule of criminal investigations : Don't say
anything that might tip off possible subjects or potentially jeopardize future
prosecutions," Kenworthy wrote. "Stone's sometimes ill-considered public
statements, they suggest, reflect his lack of senior lawenforcementexperience and
training, and underscore howfar removed he is now from his days as a policeman
in suburban Lakewood. "
By the time I graduated, the Jeflferson County Sheriffs Department had already
conducted three interviews with me. So it wasn't a surprise to n^' mom when they
called again in July for another conversation.
The police said they had n^ backpack. When we got back to my house on April
20 and I saw rr^ brother run out ofthe house, I junped out of the car and ran to hug
him; I left iry backpack behind. It had never occurred to me to go back for it, so it had
remained in Ryan Schwayder's backseat.
On May 18, Detective Jon Watson interviewed Ryan about what had happened.
Watson asked at length about actions that day; Ryan ej^lained that he and
Deanna had picked me up, and I had told them there was a shooting. According to
Watson's report, Ryan's mom commented that n^ bag was still in the Jeep. Watson
chose to take it.
Over those next two months, the police went through the contents of my
backpack, looking for something that would connect me to Columbine. Now they
were calling n^ parents for a fourth interview — and they had a " revelation" in store.
When she answered the phone, Judy Brown said, the officer on the other end
was very polite and friendly He said the police had Brooks's backpack, and that
they were going to bring it over to the house.
"You don't have to do that," she said. "We'll come down and get it."
"No, no," the officer replied. "I want to do this for you, because I'm sure you
and Mr. Brown have questions for me, and we want to answer every question you
"Okay, then, "Judy said. "Just drop on by."
"No, I want to make an appointment," the officer said. "Andyou're sure Mr.
Brown will he there, too? "
That seemed like an odd request to Judy, if the officers were simply bringing a
book bag over Later that day, two officers sat down at her kitchen table and pulled
out several of Brooks's notebooks. They had looks of "grave concern" on their
faces, Judy said.
"We have some things that are really going to upset you, Mr. and Mrs. Brown, "
they told Randy.
The other leaned in close. "We think you 're in danger. "
I carre home in tirre to see m/ parents at the table with the police. At first it didn't
strike me as anything unusual; we'd had so many conversations with the police and
the FBI that it had become common to see them around. However, I quickly noticed
that this time, they were being a lot more confrontational than before.
They had one ofrr^ old notebooks, with rr^ poem about Robert Craig in it. 1 had
written that poem the year before, shortly after Robert had committed suicide. The
poem was fi-om Robert's point of view; it talked about depression and death, and his
desire to murder his fether. The police had read the poem and interpreted it to mean
that I was plotting against n^ own parents.
Trying to keep cool, 1 pointed out that underneath the poem, I had written
" Dedicated to Robert Craig." They asked me about other poems in n^ notebook that
also dealt with dark subjects. " Look, I write a lot, and it isn't happy all the time," I
The police had pages of song lyrics that 1 had printed out fromrr^ conputer. The
police believed 1 had written them rr^self and that they were all about anger and
killing. I took one look at them and immediately pointed out which Insane Clown
Posse album they were from Anyone with knowledge of contemporary nusic or
conputers would have recognized that the lyrics had been printed from the Internet.
These police officers, however, didn't understand that.
The police pulled out "eyewitness reports" suggesting that I had known about
Eric's pipe bombs. One lady had told them she "saw rr^ white car parked over at
Eric's house all the time." My parents pointed out that I don't have a white car.
Next, they had a neighbor who said he'd been jogging one evening when he saw
Eric and me together. According to this witness, I was on a red bike, wearing a black
trench coat, and Eric and I were " lighting something."
I don't own a black trench coat, nor do I have a red bike. " Go ahead and look in
our garage," n^rmomsaid. " See if there's a red bike there."
My parents asked when this incident" had supposedly happened.
"It was around March or April ofl 998," the oflScer replied.
My parents argued that at that time Eric and I had not even been speaking. In feet,
Eric had wanted me dead and posted threats against me. My parents reminded the
investigators about Eric's Web pages.
" We're not here to talk about that," the officers replied.
The interview went on for three hours. They kept repeating, " We want Brooks to
take another lie detector test. We want our own test." Even lluuigh w c had rebuttals
for every piece of" evidence" they pulled out ofrr^ bag, they weren't backing down.
Finally rr^ dad said, " You know what? This interview is over. Don't come back
unless you really have something."
Hie officers left. Hiey had come to prove to parents that I was a killer, and left
looking like fools. Nonetheless, the feet that this had happened almost three months
after Stone's original accusation showed that the sheriffwasn't letting up.
A QUESTION I STRUGGLED WITH IN THE MONTHS AFTER THE ATmCK was
how to deal with the fciilies of the victims. On the one hand, I wanted to be able to
extend n^ synpathies to them On the other, I knew they were being fed information
from the police that I'd been involved. Because of that, I never knew how to approach
I didn't always know when I was going to run into them One tine, I was
spending the day with Kevin Larson, who had been the lead singer ofoiir band the
summer before. He had started dating a girl named Erin Fleming. The two of us went
over to her house; as I was sitting in her living room, I looked around and noticed
pictures all over the walls of Kelly Fleming, who had died in the Colun4>ine library.
Shaken, I realized that Erin Fleming was Kelly's sister
I spoke to her mother briefly, telling her who I was and how I knew Erin. We
didn't talk about Kelly at all. To be honest, once I had made the connection, I felt
really uncomfortable being there. Her parents were very nice, but it was an awkward
I tried to e-mail TomMauser a few times. Since I had nentored his son Danny on
the debate team, I felt like I should say something now that Danny was gone. Mr
Mauser never wrote me back.
I understand what must have been going through his mind, considering what the
sheriffwas saying about me. Still, it's hard when you want to tell a dad how special
you thought his kid was, and you can't, because he's been told that you had
something to do with his son's death.
Like many of the other parents. Rich Petrone, Daniel Rohrbough's stepfether,
wasn't sure what to think about me. But n^ dad, who knew Rich from the real estate
business, managed to talk with him, explaining that the Web pages we had reported to
the media were real, and that we were willing to share them In feet, he said, we were
willing to share anything they wanted to see.
This was inportant, because the deadline for filing lawsuits over the shootings
was approaching. Mr Petrone knew that if we could prove we had reported Eric's
Web pages lo the police, it would show that the police had had prior warning. So Mr.
Petrone arranged for us lo meet with Daniel's fether, Brian Rohrbough.
Brian Rohrbough has neversettled for easy answers. From the moment his son
Danny was killed at Columbine, he demanded information from the police about
what had happened and why
Danny had been killed on the steps outside Columbine High School. He was
clearly visible in helicopter footage from TV news reports; the next day, his parents
saw a giant photo of his body in the newspaper. It was the first real confirmation
they'd had of his death; no one from the sheriffs office had notified them. In fact,
Danny's body wasn't moved from that sidewalk for well over a day. The police
claimed there were fears of the bodies being "booby-trapped , " and that's why they
were left on the ground for so long. Rich Petrone had even offered to sign a waiver
saying he didn't care if he got blown up, "but he wasn't going to let Danny's body
stay on that sidewalk for another day. "
In the first few months of the investigation, Rohrbough sought constant
updates on any conspirators in the attack
"While I wasn't jumping to any conclusions, I was trying to learn about all of
Harris and Klehold's acquaintances, " he says. "I had heard the sheriff say Brooks
Brown was a suspect. And at the time, I had no reason to not believe what police
were saying. "
Six weeks after Stone's comments about Brooks, Rohrbough went to the sheriff
and asked what was going on. "I said to him, 'You told me this Brown kid was a
suspect. When are you going to arrest him?'" he recalls. "Stone told me that
Brooks wasn't involved. I didn 't think much about that until later, when I realized.
Wait a minute. The sheriff told me he's not involved, yet his name is still being
thrown around in public. ' That was when I first realized that there was something
"Even so, I still honestly didn't know what was going on," he said. "I wasn't
jumping to any conclusions. I was just waiting for evidence. "
Now, months later, the Petrones had arranged a meeting between Rohrbough
and Brooks 's parents. The meeting would take place at the Petrones ' home.
"It was very uncomfortable when we first walked in, "Judy Brown recalls. Brian
had not arrived yet, and there was a period of tension while they waited with Sue
Petrone, Danny Rohrbough's mother. However, once Rohrbough arrived, the
Browns started showing the families printouts of Eric's Web pages. Rohrbough
was stunned by what he saw.
"Many of the people who tried to offer help didn 't have any information I could
use, " he says. "They'd heard something from their neighbor, or something like that,
and there would be no way to confirm it. When I met with the Browns, though, it was
interesting — because not only did they know something, they had documentation.
They gave me close to two hundred pages of Web printouts, transcripts, and
handwritten notes. There, was definitely something there. "
The Browns carefully explained their history with Eric Harris, and the report
they had made to the police the year before.
"You could see the confusion, " Judy Brown recalls. "And then, in Brian 's face,
you could see it hit him: 'Oh, my God, the police have been lying to us about this. "'
Rohrbough was amazed to learn that the police had never taken Brooks's
computer. They had never searched his house. They had never searched his car. They
hadn't even questioned him until six days after the attack. "If he's such a big
suspect, why didn't they investigate him? "he asked.
Judy Brown made Rohrbough an offer. If he wanted, he could be alone in a
room with Brooks — no attorneys, no family members to interfere — and ask him
anything. The offer impressed Rohrbough.
"From a parent's point of view, that would be one of the first things you would
offer if your son has nothing to hide, "Rohrbough said.
However, Rich Petrone made another suggestion: perhaps it would be better for
Brooks to show Rohrbough in person where he was on the day of the attack. The
families agreed to meet at Columbine High School, to walk the route Brooks had
taken that day.
I was scared to meet Brian. I really was. My friends had been responsible for
Danny Rohrbough's death. I felt so ashamed ofthat, and I didn't know what his fether,
who had been angry enough to tear down the rremorial crosses thai had been erected
for Eric and Dylan, would say to me. On top ofthat, it would be the iirst time I'd ever
retraced n^ steps fromApril 20. 1 didn't know what to expect.
My parents went with me to Colurribine, where we met the Petrones and the
Rohrboughs. I thought I had steeled n^self for anything; 1 didn't know if Danny's
parents would be rude to me, or if they believed 1 was to blame. What I hadn't
ej^ected was own reaction when I saw Mr Rohrbough for the first time. I started to
" He looks like his son," I said to ir^ mom.
I led the group over to the spot where I'd seen Eric pull into the parking lot. From
there, we walked down Pierce, where I heard the first shots. I explained that they had
sounded like nail guns, and Brian nodded. Brian was asking questions the entire
way, wanting to know what I did at each point along the way. I didn't know it at the
time, but he was timing us as we walked. He wanted to make sure account matched
up with everything else he'd heard.
After we had finished the walk, I was badly in need of a cigarette. I shook his
hand and stepped away so he could talk to rr^ parents.
In a way, it felt good to talk with one ofthe victims' parents at length. Now they
knew me as a person, rather than just a name they'd heard from the police. At the same
time, though, I just felt overwhelmed, especially after taking that walk again. It made
the memories way too fi"esh.
While the walk had been difficult, it was helpful for Brian Rohrbough to finally
receive a firsthand account of that day's events. Also, Brooks's explanation matched
what Rohrbough had already learned. Matt Houck, who had been in the backseat of
Ryan Schwayder's car when Brooks called 911, had also talked to Rohrbough about
what had happened that day
"What Brooks was saying fit the scenario, it fit the surroundings, and it fit
what wc had already heard from other people, "Rohrbough says. "At the time, there
wasn't much information available, so you never knew what to believe. But when you
get stories that start to match, there's a much greater chance that they're right. "
Today, Rohrbough believes Brooks was being used by the police.
"It became pretty obvious that Brooks was a convenient person to blame,
because of what his father was saying [about the Web pages]," Rohrbough said.
"The easiest way to shut his dad up was to sav, 'Well, he's trying to protect his kid,
because his kid's involved. 'And that's what most of the press believed. I sat in on a
meeting with a group of reporters who were talking about how mad they were,
because they believed what the sheriff was telling them off the record . . . Clearly, the
easiest way to shut up somebody is to go after their kid. And that's what the police
The Rohrboughs and the Petrones were the first parents that I had the chance to
talk extensively with. Later, I received a call fromDarrell Scott, Rachel Scott's lather
Mr. Scott had already co-authored a book about his daughter, entitled Rachel's
Tears. Now he was putting together a tribute video, made up ofcoinments trompeople
who had known her. He had a photo of me studying with Rachel before a debate
conpetition, and he knew that she and I had been friends. So he asked me to
I agreed. I wanted to do it fer Rachel.
Mr Scott and I went to Clement Park, and when he turned on the camera I just
started talking. 1 said that ifEric and Dylan had thought they were getting back at all
the people who had made tim ofthcni Ihcy had made a horrible mistake by killing
Rachel. If there was one person who would have accepted them, it was her I talked
about our first discussion on &th. I wanted to make it clear that Rachel had never
Judged people by their beliefe, despite what Bruce Porter had said at herfiineral.
Rachel Scott was one of the most beautifiil people I've ever known, and being
able to speak in her memory gave me one small piece ofclosure. I thank her femily for
giving me that chance.
To this day, it's still awkward when I'maround the families ofthc people Eric and
Dylan wounded or killed. No matter how nice they are to me, I know that somewhere
deep down, they're looking at me and thinking, "I lost n^' child to those two sick
bastards, and this guy was their friend." It's hard to approach them. It's hard to talk to
Still, once I get to talking with then% they understand that I really didn't have
any clue about what was going to happen. They realize that I lost people that day,
too. I'm not a conspirator I'm just another person, and the friends I thought I knew
ON THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL IN THE FALL OF 1999, COLUMBINE HELD a
"Take Back the School" ceremony. It was the first time classes had resumed at the
building since April 20. Repair crews had spent the summer removing all evidence
of Eric and Dylan's rampage. Ceiling tiles were replaced, water damage from the
fire .sprinklers was repaired, and hiillel holes and broken glass were removed. A
wall of lockers was installed in front of the entrance to the library, which had been
Brooks's brother Aaron, a junior, had to return to Columbine. He remembers
the bizarre atmosphere of the first day. Media trucks filled nearby Clement Park.
Principal Frank DeAngelis's welcoming speech was carried live by CNN. Parents
stood side by side in front of the entrance to shield students from the media as they
entered the school.
Once inside, though — where cameras were banned — things were more subdued.
"Things were better at Columbine, as far as how people treated one another,"
Aaron recalls. 'At least, that's how it was for the first month or so. But by two or
three months after we got back, things were back to the way they had been before.
The name-calling started up all over again. Some people had changed a lot, but
others hadn't changed at all. "
I was worried about rr^ brother when he went back into that school. Principal
DeAngelis repeatedly denied to the media that he saw any bullying going on. He
kept making " We Are Coluniine" speeches and talking about how the school was
coning together. The administration wasn't feeing the feet that kids were still as cruel
to one another as ever.
Meanwhile, diferent organizations were using Eric and Dylan to promote their
causes. Gun-conlrol advocates arguing for more restrictive gun laws rose up against
legal gun owners, starting with a protest outside the National Rifle Association's
convention in Denver shortly after Columbine.
But tougher gun laws wouldn't have stopped Eric and Dylan. They went around
one law by using Robyn Anderson to buy weapons at a gun show, and broke another
entirely by buying their TEC-9 from a friend. All that gun-control advocates were
doing was punishing law-abiding gun owners fcr Eric and Dylan's misdeeds.
Some tried to say Eric and Dylan were out to kill minorities, because they called
Isaiah Shoels a "nigger" and then killed him It's true Eric posted criticisms ofother
races on his Web site from tin's to tin's, and I have no doubt that they did call Isaiah
what they did. However, they also killed twelve other people who were white. It
seems clear that racist feelings weren't the motivating force behind the shootings.
Rather, I think Eric and Dylan were determined to humiliate all their victims, no
matter who they were. Library witnesses said they made fiin ofanother kid because of
his glasses. They said they wanted to kill "anyone with a white hat" because
athletes wore white hats. Hiey found some way to mock or degrade each person before
they fired the fetal shot. It was one big game to them
Along the same lines, it doesn't seem that Eric and Dylan specifically targeted
people because of their religion. Witnesses remember them asking several people
whether they "believed in God" before shooting them Those stories were repeated
throughout the media.
As a result, religious organizations quickly picked up on Coluihbine. They tried
to make people believe the shooting represented a "crisis of feith," that Eric and
Dylan had gone into Coluntine for the sole purpose ofkilling as many Christians as
One ofthe best-known exaiTples they held up is Cassie Bemall, who was killed
in the library. More than one witness there claimed that Eric and Dylan asked Cassie
if she believed in God, and that when she said yes, she was shot. Her parents wrote a
book entitled She Said Yes: The Unlikely Martyrdom of Cassie Bemall, which
became a bestseller:
However, according to the Rocky Mountain News, a student named Enily Wyant
— ^who was crouched down next to Cassie underneath a table — ^told police that the
exchange never happened.
Another library witness, Craig Scott (Rachel's brother), was one ofthe kids who
told police he had heard Cassie say yes. According to a Decei'nber 14 Rocky
Mountain News article, " Inside the Columbine Investigation," police took Craig into
the library and asked himwhat direction the question had corre from
"When he revisited the library, he realized the voice had come from another
direction — from the table where student Valeen Schnurr had been shot," Dan
Liizadder and Kevin Vaughn wrote. "Investigators came to believe it was probably
Valeen, who survived, who told the gunmen ofher &ith in God."
Author P. Solomon Banda ofthe Associated Press wrote a Dec. 27, 1999 article
entitled " Who Said ' Yes' To Columbine Gunmen? Faithful Say It's Immaterial." In the
article, Schnun" said she was " blown out from underneath a table by a shotgun blast"
fromEric or Dylan.
" One ofthe gunmen asked her ifshe believed in God and she said ' yes,' crawling
away as he reloaded," Banda wrote.
TIME Magazine shared a diflerent scenario in its Dec. 20, 1999 cover story, " The
Columbine Tapes." Author TimRoche wrote, " When Harris found Cassie Bemall, he
leaned down. 'Peekaboo,' he said, and killed her His shotgun kicked, stunning him
and breaking his nose."
Yet even when these doubts surfeced, there were some who said the question was
irrelevant. Banda wrote:
"It doesn 't matter who said it or if no one said it, " [church volunteer
Sara] Evans said. "But if people believe in God, that's what's
Doug Clark, director of field ministries of San Diego-based National
Network of Youth Ministries, said he encourages other students to follow
the teens' example of boldness. "Mincing words over what was said in the
library is a minor part, " Clark said. "The greater part is how they lived
their lives, and it's not going to change anything. "
Religious experts said attempts to clarify the confusion surrounding
the stories of Christian faith actually could help embed the story in
"This rethinking can be chalked up to media scrutiny, which I think the
faithful would dismiss as a cynical attempt to debunk the story," said
Randall Balmer, professor of American Religious Studies at Barnard
College. "In some ways, it may make the faithful dig in a little bit deeper
and resist those attempts. " (" Who Said 'Yes' To Columbine Gunmen?" P.
Solomon Banda, Associated Press, 12/27/99)
Balmer's assessment was accurate. On the Web site cassiebemall.org . Christian
author Wendy Murray Zoba posted an article entitled " Did She or Didn't She?" with
a clear slant against any reporter who questioned the story. She criticized Salon.com
writer Dave Cullen for airing doubts, writing, " In &ct, it is Cullen's piece — and the
Jeffirson County Sheriff's Departinent information office — that should be called into
Zoba's article showed a clear double standard. On the one hand, she tried to
debunk witnesses like Emily Wyant by quoting trauma recovery expert Dee Dee
[McDermott] says, "Some people have a great capacity for processing
the trauma and are able to stay, what we call, 'fully present. 'They have a
high level of recall. Other students are so traumatized, they do not have
the capacity to process all the information. Those students would be the
ones who would have what we would call memory blocks. A diagnosis for
this is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. There was smoke [in the library]
which was disorienting, and they were in study [carrels] with hard wood
sides. . . . People who are interviewing these kids need to understand the
dynamics of what trauma does and how they're processing it. " ('Did She
or Didn't She?" Wendy Murray Zoba, cas s i ebemal I .org .)
In other words, library witnesses like Emily were suffiring from" stress disorder"
that afected their memory.
On the other hand, witnesses like Craig Scott and Josh Lapp, whomshe cited as
remembering the exchange, sufered from no such disorien-tation — except that Scott
was " disoriented" when he heard the question coite from Valeen SchnuiT's direction
rather than from Cassie Bemall's. Zoba quoted Craig Scott as saying, "The whole
world can say Cassie never said 'yes' to the guniren, and I'd still stand by n^
knowledge that she did."
People were turning n^ high school's tragedy into a tool for their political
causes. Zoba was not an objective third party. She was the associate editor for
Christianity Today and the author oftheir Oct. 4, 1999 cover story, " Do You Believe
In God? How Columbine Changed America." She has written an entire book about
feith in regard to Columbine, entitled Day of Reckoning.
I'm not claiming that Eric and Dylan didn't have a certain hatred for religion.
They did. In &ct, we had many discussions about how difficult it could be for a non-
Christian at Colurrf^ine. Many Littleton residents equate Christianity with being a
good person, and they look down on those who are not rrKmbers ol'lhe church. It was
hard fer Eric and Dylan to watch sell-proclaimed " Christians" who pushed other kids
around, shoved theminto lockers and call themfeggots, then got up later and talked
about how " important" their feith was. I know for a feet that things like that made
Eric and Dylan angry.
Yet, even if it is true that Cassie and Rachel said " yes," it doesn't n^an Eric and
Dylan's sole intention was to kill Christians. Eleven other people were shot without
even being asked the question. Also, there were no stories ofkids who said no and
were allowed to live.
Zoba concluded her article with the following quote from investigator Gary
Muse: "IfCassie's exchange with the gunmen is not germane to the investigation —
and I don't believe it is — ^why are people so interested in debunking the account?"
My answer is simple: It isn't anti -Christian to have questions about Cassie's
exchange. It's insulting to suggest that I shouldn't be allowed to seek clarity, in the
wake of all the controversy surrounding the story. Cassie was classmate. I have a
right to try to learn the reasons for her death.
By Decenier we would get our first glimpse of those reasons — from Eric and
That fell, we learned that TIME Magazine was working on an in-depth story
about the Columbine investigation. Reporter TimRoche, who wanted to know more
about Eric's Web pages, contacted rry femily.
Roche conducted several interviews with us at our home. When he came over for
the last one, he had a stunned look on his fece. " You're not going to believe what the
cops just showed me," he said.
Roche had just viewed Eric and Dylan's basement videotapes.
The tapes, which were found by the police in Eric's home on the day of the
massacre, had been a well-guarded secret in the months since then. We knew they
existed, and the police had read excerpts ti'om them during a sentencing hearing for
one of the gun suppliers, but when members of the media and the femilies of the
victims asked to view them, they were denied. Now, however, Roche had seen them
Apparently his access was very generous. On December 20, 1999, TIME printed
its exclusive story, "The Columbine Tapes: The Killers Tell Why They Did It." The
story featured extensive quotes from the videos, as well as Roche's assessment of
The tapes were meant to be their final word, to all those who had
picked on them over the years, and to everyone who would come up with a
theory about their inner demons. It is clear listening to them that Harris
and Klebold were not just having trouble with what their counselors
called 'anger management. 'They fed the anger, fueled it, so the fury could
take hold, because they knew they would need it to do what they set out to
do. "More rage. More rage, " Harris says. "Keep building it on, " he savs,
motioning with his hands f>r emphasis.
Harris recalls how he moved around so much with his military family
and always had to start over, "at the bottom of the ladder." People
continually made fun of him — "my face, my hair, my shirts." As for
Klebold, "If you could see all the anger I've stored over the past four f—
ing years... " he says.... As far back as the Foothills Day Care center, he
hated the "stuck-up " kids he felt hated him. "Being shy didn 't help, " he
admits. "I'm going to kill you all. You've been giving us s— for years."
("The Columbine Tapes," TIME, 12/20/99)
Sherifi'Stonc came imder heavy crilicism lor having Ignored repeated pleas from
the fenilies to see the videotapes but allowed a reporter ^omTIME to see them. Stone
countered by claiming that Roche had agreed never to quote from them, and had
broken the agreement.
TIME denied that any such agreement had ever been entered into. Roche told my
mother that the accusations were not only &lse, but were ruining his credibility as a
joumalist, because now people believed that he was willing to bum a source lor the
sake of a story. I knew he would not have lied about how things happened. He was a
great guy, and an honest reporter The police were rolling over him to protect
themselves — just like they'd done with me.
Stone made another attenpt at damage control. This time, he said he hadn't yet
viewed the tapes himself so he didn't know what they contained when he gave Roche
permission to see them This was hardly a good way to avoid criticism; as Denver
Post columnist Chuck Green pointed out, "Although he is in charge of the
Columbine investigation, Sheriff Stone hadn't taken the time to sit in a chair and
watch the remarkable videotapes ofHarris and Klebold planning the crirre."
After it became known that Stone had allowed a reporter to view the tapes, other
members of the media demanded the right to see them as well. In a last-ditch effi>rt to
deflise the situation. Stone proposed two screenings ofthe videos — one for the media
and the other for the femilies. My parents got wind ofthis, and they headed over to the
sheriffs office to see the tapes for themselves.
Randy and Judy Brown followed the arrows that led them through the Dakota
Building, near the Jefferson County Sheriff's Offiee, until they reached the room
where the videos were to be screened. As the tapes were about to begin, the police
asked to see press credentials.
"We don 't have any, " Judy said.
The officer demanded their names. When the Browns told him, he replied that
they couldn 't be there.
"Yes, we can," Randy replied. "We're citizens and we're going to see those
"No, you 're not, " the officer replied.
Randy didn't backdown. "Are you going to arrest me if I go in that room?" he
asked. Behind the officer, members of the press were watching the exchange with
"No, " the officer replied after a moment.
With that, Randy marched past. "Rather than have a knock-down drag-out fight
with them, we allowed them in, " Deputy Wayne Holverson told Holly Kurtz and
Lynn Bartels of the Denver Rocky Mountain News. "They wanted to watch the tapes,
and we figured this was as good a time as any. "
One of the officers spoke with Judy in the hallway while Randy went into the
screening room. The officer warned her that the tapes were "extremely disturbing, "
but he recognized her right to see them.
The officer called detective Kate Battau over to meet Judy. "She was so friendly,
and said hello, "Judy recalls. "Then the officer said, 'This is Judy Brown. 'Kate Just
threw her hands in the air and walked away. The officer said, 'Well, I don't know
what that was about. 'She clearly didn't want to talk to me. "
Judy rejoined her husband inside the screening room just as the first tape was
beginning. What she saw, she says, horrified her.
Eric and Dylan's basement tapes have never been released for viewing by the
general public — at least, as of the writing ofthis book. However, I've been able to
learn a lot about themfromwhat n^' parents remenier seeing, as well as by reading the
police summary of their contents (contained in a report released by the sheriffs office
in November, 2000). This is what I have been able to put together.
On the first tape, Eric and Dylan are seated in the basement ofEric's house, with
Eric holding a shotgun he calls " Arlene," named after a character in Doom. Eric is
wearing a Ramnstein T-shirt with "Wilder Wein" — German fcr "Wild Wine" —
written on it. He and Dylan are drinking abottle of Jack Daniels as they speak.
At first they talk about weapons. "Thanks to Mark John Doe and Philip John
Doe," they say, referring to Mark Manes and Philip Duran, who provided them with
their TEC-9. " We used them; they had no clue. If it hadn't been them, it would have
been someone else over twenty-one."
Eric tells how close he came to being caught when the Green Mountain Guns
store called his house. His fether answered, and the clerk said, " Your clips are in."
His fether replied that he hadn't ordered any clips and left the matter there. Eric laughs
as he recounts the story. He also mentions the time when his parents found a pipe
bomb but never searched for others. He recalls the tin^ he walked past his mother
when his shotgun was "in n^ terrorist bag sticking out." She thought it was his
pellet gun, he says.
The two are still angry about their arrest for the van break-in over a year before.
" Fuck you, Walsh," Dylan says, a reference to the officer who caught them.
Eric and Dylan get up to take a tour ofEric's bedroom, "to see all the illegal
shit." Eric shows offhis stash ofweapons; " Thanks to the gun show, and to Robyn,"
he says. " Robyn is very cool."
Eric then shows off how he's managed to keep his weapons hidden. My mom
specifically remembers Eric pulling out a desk drawer filled with clocks ofdifeent
sizes and shapes, along with batteries and solar igniters, which Eric planned to use
for the propane bonis. Eric has pipe bonis hidden behind his CD collection; inside
a "Demon Knight" CD is his receipt from Green Mountain Guns for nine ammunition
magazines. However, he also has "fifty feet of cannon fiise" hanging on the wall in
Eric holds up sorre ofhis gear in fi"ont ofthe camera. " What you will find on rry
body in April," he says.
The two appear in a second video dated March 18, once again seated in the
basement. Writers Karen Abbott and Dan Luzadder ofthe Denver Rocky Mountain
News viewed the tapes during the media screening and ofered the following
observation in their Decenter 13, 1999 story, " War Is War":
They explain over and over why they want, to kill as many people as
they can. Kids taunted them in elementary school, in middle school, in
high school. Adults wouldn't let them strike back, to fight their
tormenters, the way such disputes once were settled in schoolyards. So
they gritted their teeth. And their rage grew. "It's humanity," Klebold
says, flipping an obscene gesture toward the camera. "Look at what you
made," he tells the world. "You're fucking shit, you humans, and you
deserve to die. ". . . They speak at length about all the people who wronged
them. "You've given us shit for years," Klebold says. "You're fucking
going to pay for all the shit. We don't give a shit because we're going to
die doing Warls Wsa^ Rocky Mountain News, 12/13/99)
Dylan asks Eric ifhe thinks the cops will listen to the entire video. Eric replies
that he believes the cops will chop the video up into little pieces, " and the police
will just show the public what they want it to look like." They suggest delivering
the videos to TV stations right before the attack. After all, they want people to know
that they feel they have their reasons.
" We are but aren't psycho," they say.
On another tape, at Dylan's house, Eric videotapes Dyhin trying on his wciipons.
Dylan is wearing a black T-shirt with "Wrath" written on it — the sairtc shirt he
would wear on the day ofthe attack.
Dylan promises his parents that there was nothing they could have done to stop
him. According to the Rocky Mountain News article "War Is War," "You can't
understand what we feel," he says. "You can't understand, no matter how nxich you
think you can."
The Rocky Mountain News quoted Eric as o&ring praise for his parents. "My
parents are the best lucking parents I have ever known," he says. " My dad is great. I
wish 1 was a lucking sociopath so I don't have any remorse, but I do. This is going to
tear them apart. They will never forget it."
According to police reports, Eric expresses regret on another tape as well. He
recorded one segment while driving alone in his car " It's a weird feeling, knowing
you're going to be dead in two and a half weeks," he says to the carrera. He talks
about the co-workers he will miss, and says he wishes he could have revisited
Michigan and "old friends." The officer who viewed this tape wrote that "at this
point he becomes silent and appears to start crying, wiping a tear from the side ofhis
fece. . . . [H]e reaches toward the camera and shuts It ofE"
Their final tape is less than two minutes long. Eric, behind the camera, tells Dylan
to " say it now."
" Hey, Mom Gotta go," Dylan says to the camera. " It's about half an hour before
our little judgment day. I just wanted to apologize to you guys fer any crap this might
instigate as & as (inaudible) or something. Just know that I'mgoing to abetter place
than here. 1 didn't like life too mich and I know I'll be happier wherever the fiick I go.
My parents have only seen the tape once. The police refiise to release it to the
public, citing fears of copycats. However, it is clear slrrply from the tapes' excerpts
that mich could be learned fromthemabout Eric and Dylan's true motives.
What angers me about the videotapes is that none of Eric and Dylan's friends
have ever been allowed to see them Tliink about it. You have three hours of video,
recorded by two teenagers fiill of rage about our school. They reference song lyrics.
They reference things at Columbine. Who is going to understand those references?
But at this time — three years afEer the shootings — the only people who have seen
the videotapes are detectives, reporters, and the families of the victims. These adults
won't catch the references that Eric and Dylan's friends and classmates will.
I believe the tapes can help us understand what happened and should be released
to the public. However, Ifthe judge isn't willing to do that, the police should at least
put together a group ofhigh school students, as well as some of Eric and Dylan's
fiiends, and have them watch the tapes. It amazes me that investigators have not done
this, because who knows what clues are flying right over their heads?
Ihe police don't think people need to know anything more about Eric and
Dylan's motives. But I want a chance to learn fromthose tapes fcr n^self
It remains to be seen whether any ofus will have that chance.
Shortly after the TIME article about the videotapes was released, a small item
appeared in the media. Undersheriff John Dunaway formally announced that I had
nothing to do with the attack on Colunbine.
" There is no evidence suggesting Brooks Brown was in any way involved in
these nurders," Dunaway said on Decenier 2 1 .
Nonetheless, the damage had already been done, and femily would never
forget. And before long, we would be given the chance to fight back.
TO THIS DAY, THE HARRIS AND KLEBOLD FAMILIES HAVE REFUSED TO
grant any media interviews. They have also never met with the fiuiilies ofthe victims.
However, the week before the one-year anniversary of the Coluntine attack, both
fenilies issued statements to the media.
Hie Harris femily wrote:
We continue to he profoundly saddened by the suffering of so many
that has resulted from the acts of our son. We loved our son dearly, and
search our souls daily for some glimmer of a reason why he would have
done such a horrible thing. What he did was unforgivable and beyond
our capacity to understand. The passage of time has yet to lessen the
We are thanlrful to those who have kept us in their thoughts and
— Wayne and Kathy Harris
The Klebolds ofered their own statement ofsynpathy:
Nearly a year has passed since tragedy changed the Columbine
community forever. A day that began innocentlv ended catastrophically.
The healing process has moved slowly as we all attempt to cope, not only
with our own despair, but also with the distractions and intrusions that
result from world attention.
There are no words that convey how sorry we are for the pain that has
been brought upon the community as a result of our son's actions. The
pain of others compounds our own as we struggle to live a life without
the son we cherished. In the reality of the Columbine tragedy and its
afterniath, we look with the rest of the world to understand how such a
thing could happen.
We are convinced that the only way to truly honor all of the victims of
this and other related tragedies is to move clearly and methodically
toward an understanding of why they occur, so that we may try to prevent
this kind of madness from ever happening again. It is our intention to
work for this end, believing that answers are probably within reach, hut
that they will not be simple. We envision a time when circumstances will
allow us to join with those who share our desire to understand. In the
meantime, we again express our profound condolences to those whose
lives have been so tragically altered. We look forward to a day when all
of our pain is replaced by peace and acceptance.
Finally we wish to thank those who have sent their kind thoughts,
prayers and expressions of support to our family We are constantly
surprised and heartened by the gestures of understanding and
compassion that have been extended to us. The support has been both
humbling and inspiring, and we are truly indebted to those who have
— The Klebold family
I haven't seen the Harrises since the day Eric threw a piece of ice into
windshield. I know nothing about what their life has been like since April 20.
However, n^ &mily did keep in touch with the Klebolds.
I visited Dylan's parents at their home one day, about a year after the murders.
Mrs. Klebold made strawberry shortcake, and we sat down in their living room and
caught up. We avoided the subject of Columbine for along time; we talked about their
house, where I was going with n^ life, how n^ parents were doing. They were trying
so hard to be normal. But the conversation eventually turned toward Dylan.
It was awkward; I didn't know what to say. I could talk to them about what was
happening with the police, or what it was like at the school, or what I was doing. But
it was hard to talk about Dylan.
When I left, it was for the last time. I've never been back.
My mother has attenpted to maintain her friendship with Mrs. Klebold as best
she can. However, it's hard for themto talk without the subject ofDylan coming up,
and that causes Mrs. Klebold a lot ofpain. The Klebolds go day-to-day, because with
Coluniine, you never know ifsomething new is going to be in the paper tomorrow —
something that will bring it all back again.
Reminders of Columbine never stopped coming. In £ict, new tragedies continued
to conpound our community's su:fering.
Six months after the nxirders, the mother of one of Colun4)ine's injured students
committed suicide. Carla Hochhalter walked into a Littleton pawnshop, asked to see
a gun, and agreed to purchase it. As the clerk turned his back to gather the necessary
paperwork, Hochhalter loaded the gun and shot herself
Her daughter, Anne-Marie Hochhalter, had been wounded in Columbine's
parking lot. Carla Hochhalter had already been suflering from depression for several
years; her illness worsened afier her daughter was injured, and she was hospitalized
several months before her death. Some consider her to be one more of Eric and Dylan's
hi February, two Colunfcine students were gunned down at a Subway restaurant
just a few blocks south of the school. Nicholas Kunselman was an employee at
Subway and had just closed the store for the night. His girlfriend, Stephanie Hart,
was there with him Sorretirre between 10 p.m and 1 a.m, both were shot and killed.
No money was taken from the store, and there was no clear motive. To this day, the
police have made no arrests in the case.
Only a few weeks after the one-year anniversary, Coluntine basketball player
Greg Barnes committed suicide. Barnes was in the choir room when Eric and Dylan
went on their rampage. I never knew Greg, but from what people have told me, the
nemories ofthat day were too nuch for himto deal with.
Of course, seeing things like that happen worsened the pain everyone was
feeling. A year after the nxirders, I was still struggling with what had happened that
day. No matter how much I analyzed it, I still didn't understand why n^' ffiends had
done what they'd done. I still had nightmares about the shootings. I still asked n^self
ifthere was something I could have done.
There was no peace to be found. No easy answers. No closure.
Oil April 20.2000, Colorado CJoveriior BiH Owens called for a monient of
silence to remember the shootings at Columbine. "Today is about the angels who
are watching over us, helping us to heal and helping us to remember, " he said
outside the state Capitol in downtown Denver.
At a private tribute to students and teachers, Principal Frank DeAngelis read
the words of President Clinton to an audience of over a thousand in the Columbine
"What happened in Littleton pierced the sou! of America," Clinton wrote,
according to the Rocky Mountain News. "Though a year has passed, time has not
dimmed our memory or softened our grief at the loss of so many whose lives were
cut off in the promise of youth. "
As they had done a year before, media trucks gathered in Clement Park to
record these events. Many were preparing stories of healing and closure.
Away from it all, Brooks stood alone, smoking a cigarette and remembering.
Contrary to what some in the community were saying, the one-year anniversary
had nothing to do with closure — at least, not fcr those closest to the tragedy. That
week, the femilies of fifteen people killed or wounded at Colunfcine filed suit against
the Jeflferson County Sheriffs Department.
The Sanders femily sued because Mr. Sanders had been let to die in the school,
even though the police knew for hours where he was. The police didn't reach Sanders
until 2:42 p.m Fromthere, they made the students who were caring for himevacuale.
Yet, even after they had reached the room, it took over half an hour fcr paramedics to
be brought in. By that point, it had been nearly four hours since Sanders had been
shot. He bled to death.
Other lawsuits used the Web pages n^^ femily had turned over to argue that the
police could have stopped the massacre fi-om happening, but didn't.
SheriffStone called the lawsuits " ridiculous."
" We didn't do anything wrong,'" he told the Rocky Mountain News. " We have
people who did son^ pretty heroic things that are now getting kicked in the lace for
rescuing people, for saving people's lives. Because ofgrccd."
Heroic? How? Who had they actually saved? The police stood outside and did
nothing during the entire massacre. Not one oflScer attempted to engage Eric and
Dylan after entering the school. Mr. Sanders was alive fcr three hours befcre officers
even reached him Lives could have been saved if the police had gone in, but they
didn't. Stone was trying to portray his police force as a noble organization that had
done everything it could. However, the events of the next month would show just
what kind ofpolice force we were really dealing with.
A month after the first anniversary, the Jefferson County Sheriffs Office released its
official report on the Columbine killings. The bulk of the report was a timeline
showing the events of April 20.
This was how the police described rr^ last conversation with Eric:
"Harris speaks to one student briefly outside the west entrance of the school.
According to the student, Harris tells him to leave the school because he likes him
Shortly thereafter, the same student is seen by witnesses walking south on Pierce
Street away from the area. Hiis student is the only person Harris and Klebold direct
away fromthe school grounds moments before the killing begins."
This description was incorrect. I never spoke to Eric outside the west entrance. I
spoke to him in the parking lot near the east entrance — on the opposite side of the
school. On paper, it seems like a small mistake. Yet Eric and Dylan reportedly started
their shooting at the west entrance. Saying that I met Eric there implies that I saw
guns, ran away without warning anyone — and ran to the other side ofthe school in
order to be moving south on Pierce later.
Was it a mistake? If so, I can't help questioning the accuracy ofthe rest ofthe
police report. On the other hand, perhaps it was intentional. After all, putting me at
the west entrance certainly makes me look suspicious to anyone who reads the report.
The police made brief mention of Eric's Web pages in the report, but played them
down. "The information was reviewed by Sheriffs investigators," the report reads.
"However, Harris's Web site could not be accessed nor could reports ofpipe bomb
detonations be substantiated. Because of Brown's request to remain anonymous,
Klebold and Harris were not contacted. Further investigation was initiated but no
additional information was developed."
This was incorrect, too. My femily did not request to remain anonymous. We
asked that the Harris ^mily not be given our name, but n^ fether offered to sign a
police report; he was told that would not be necessary. Also, n^' parents were told in
their meeting with Detective Hicks that there were reports of boni) activity in our
area, so "reports ofpipe honb detonations" were substantiated. And if the police
were having problems accessing Eric's Web site, they could have called us back and
asked for help. They never did.
The Sheriffs Report was supposed to answer all ofthe public's questions about
Columbine. Instead, the more I read, the angrier I became.
Sheriff Stone and the Jefferson County Police Department continued to
infuriate survivors of Columbine as the summer progressed. In June, Sheriff Stone
was asked to testify before the Columbine Review Commission, an investigative
panel assembled by Governor Owens. Stone originally said he would, but the day
before his scheduled testimony in June, he changed his mind.
Stone told reporters he had "no choice" because of the lawsuits his department
was facing from the victims' families. He had been advised by attorneys not to
testify. He stood by that decision, even as Governor Owens himself urged Stone to
change his mind.
Stone also refused to hand over Danny Rohrbough's clothing to his parents,
even though other parents had received their children's possessions long ago. The
police told Brian Rohrbough that Danny's shirt was a hiohazard. Then they
claimed that they wouldn 't hand it over because the case was still open. This seemed
odd to observers; after all, by now the police had publicly stated that Eric and
Dylan had been the only ones involved in the killings. However, as long as the case
wasn't closed, the police weren 't obligated to hand over evidence.
Frustrations such as these motivated the Browns — with the blessing of several
of the victims ' families — to launch a recall effort against Sheriff Stone. By .June 9,
2000, theirreca/l petition was approved by the Jefferson Countv Clerk's Office. They
would have sixty days to gather at least 42,000 signatures from registered voters.
The petition listed four reasons for Stone's recall:
Because Sheriff Stone has lost our confidence and trust.
Because he has put his political career ahead of the interests of the
citizens of Jefferson County.
Because he has mismanaged the Columbine investigation.
Because he has mismanaged the sheriffs department during his term in
Randy Brown pointed to the TIME debacle, the suspicion cast on Brooks, and
the behavior of police at Columbine on April 20 as examples of inexcusable
behavior by Stone.
"Why aren't people mad?" Randy Brown told the Rocky Mountain News.
"Don't they get it? They let children die. Innocent, defenseless children were
murdered while they waited outside, and that was a command decision by Sheriff
However, the recall effort proved too daunting a task for the Browns and the
handful of volunteers who joined them. While the Browns gathered a substantial
number of signatures, they couldn 't reach their goal by the time the sixty-day period
Even though their effort had fallen short, the Browns still wanted to make a
statement. Fearing retribution by Stone against those who had signed the petition
— including officers in his own department — the Browns chose not to turn those
names in. Instead, they chose to leave just two names on the final petition. Their
My femily's battle with Sheriff Stone taught me an important lesson about
politics. When parents were circulating that petition, people would say to them,
" Ifhe weren't doing his job, he would be fired." People have to understand that when
it comes to elected officials, we, the public, are their bosses. We hire them through our
votes. We are also the only ones who can fire them.
Too many people ignore politics in their lives, refiising to vote or get involved in
the process. Yet even the smallest and most uninportant elected official will afect
For elected officials, character has to matter, because they are setting an exanple
fcr the rest of us. The President of the United States sets that standard. Yet who was
President when Colunijine happened? It was Bill Clinton, who was enfcroiled in the
Monica Lewinsky scandal, getting oral sex fi-oman intern in the Oval Office and then
lying under oath about it. Ifthat's the exanple we get fi"omthe highest elected official
in the land, and he sufers no real penalty, then why would anyone bat an eye if Sheriff
Stone lies to parents about what happened to their children at Colunbine?
Young people see adults lying and getting away with it on aregular basis. That's
the exanple being set fer us.
That's why people in our country must pay attention to what's happening in the
world around them I don't see how anyone who reads up on Colun4)ine would come
away believing the police did nothing wrong. Yet fer many, when it comes to difficult
issues, it's easier to just look the other way.
the truth comes out
UNHAPPY WITH THE LACK OF INFORMATION IN THE SHERIFF'S REPORX
fenilies ofColunbine victims continued to push fer the release of all information
related to the investigation. In Novenber of2000, that wish was granted.
Judge Brooke Jackson ordered the release of over 1 1,000 pages of investigative
files on Noveni)er21. Jackson outlined specific exceptions to that instruction: crime
scene photos, autopsy reports, and material seized from Eric and Dylan's homes were
not to be released. Neither were details about the bombs, or Eric's hit list" ofpeople
he wanted dead. However, all other material was to be handed over.
The Jeffio Sheriffs Office charged $602 for each copy of the materials, claining
that the charge would cover printing costs. My parents obtained one of the sets and
immediately pored over it, hunting for new information.
There were some surprises among the pages. We learned that while the Klebold
femily had given an extensive interview to police, there was no report of an interview
with the Harrises. The police said that they hadn't gleaned enough information fi-om
their sole interview to write up a report.
In addition, we read that the Harrises had resisted the arrival ofpolice at their
home on April 20, 1999. At first, they barred officers fi'om their home. Then they tried
to stop themfromgoing down into the basement, where Eric's bedroomwas.
"Mr and Mrs. Harris were afi"aid ofretaliation fi'omthe parents [whose] children
were killed at [the] high school," read part ofthe report.
There were reports of more warning signs fi"omEric and Dylan before the attack.
According to the report, Dylan was fired fi'omhis job at Blackjack Pizza for bringing
a pipe bomb to work. Yet store owner Bob Kirgis told police that Eric brought a pipe
bomb to work in April of 1997 and talked about detonating it; Kirgis took no action
The report contained a short story written by Dylan in our creative writing class.
I had never seen it before. In the story, Dylan described a man dressed in a black
overcoat who " looked ready for a small war with whoever came across his way." The
man confronted a group of" college-preps," one of whom he described as a " power-
hungry prick." The man then drew weapons on the group and began shooting. " The
shining ofthe streetlights caused a visible reflection offthe droplets of blood as they
flew away fromthe skull," Dylan wrote.
The final portion gave a glinpse ofwhat was going on in Dylan's mind:
The man then pulled out of the duffel bag what looked to be some type
of electronic device. I saw him tweak the dials, and press a button. I heard
a faint, yet powerful explosion, I would have to guess about six miles
away Then another one occurred closer. After recalling the night many
times, I finally understood that these were diversions, to attract the cops.
The last prep was bawling and trying to crawl away The man walked
up behind him. I remember the sound of the impact well. The man came
down with his left hand right on the prep's head. The metal piece did its
work, as I saw his hand buried about 2 inches into the guy's skull. The
man pulled his arm out and stood, unmoving, for about a minute. The
town was utterly still, except for the faint wail of police sirens.
The man picked up the bag and his clips, and proceeded to walk back
the way he came. I was still as he came my way again. He stopped, and
gave me a look I will never forget. If I could face an emotion of god, it
would have looked like this man. I not only saw in his face, hut also felt
eminating [sic] from him power, complacence, closure and godliness. The
man smiled, and in that instant, through no endeavor of my own, I
understood his actions.
The thousands of new pages of evidence would prove to be an invaluable
resource in researching what happened at Columbine. However, there was little new
information on n^^ femily, or Eric's Web pages, in that massive report. Despite the
11,000 pages of material, we suspected that the police were still withholding
information fromthe public.
On the morning of Columbine's two-year anniversary, I was driving through
Clement Park with a friend on our way to the memorial ceremony. My friend noticed a
camera operator unloading equipment fromthe back ofhis truck.
" Hey, look — ^media guy," n^ friend j oked. " How many points do I get if I aim for
I shook n^f head. " I have no problem with the media," I said. " Where would
Martin Luther King iia\ c been ifthere weren't any cameras?"
I know it's popular in many circles to bash the media; people in Littleton do it all
the time. I won't join them I've met a countless nun4>er of reporters in the three years
since Coluni)ine; not only did most ofthemprove to be great people, but we would
never have uncovered the infcrmation we did without them
It was the media that showed us what Eric and Dylan said on their basement
videotapes. It was the rr^dia that kept constant pressure on the police to release more
information. And when the rredia reported Sheriif Stone's comrrents about m/
" involvement" in the murders early on, they also gave rny femily plenty ofchances to
respond on the same day. They treated us with &imess.
In feet, 1 owe a debt ofgratitude to the producers of CBS's 60 Minutes II. Thanks
to their work, it was finally proved — after two years of doubt — ^that femily had
been telling the truth fi-omthe beginning.
Producers from 60 Minutes II arrived in Littleton sometime between January and
February of2001. Tliey were aware of the many new developments in the Columbine
case, and wanted to dedicate a flill hour to reporting on it — an unusual move, since
they usually have three or lour dillcrenl stories per show.
Much of their report was dedicated to the police response to Columbine, and
whether more could have been done. In interviews with Ed Bradley, I recounted the
story ofEric's Web pages yet again.
While 60 Minutes II was in town, rof parents received a letter fi-om Jefferson
County District Attorney Dave Tliomas. We had asked for an internal investigation of
Columbine back in October, and he was writing to tell us that the investigation
would not happen; one reason he listed was that he had seen an affidavit for a search
warrant of the Harris houK in 1998, and it was not enough reason for a new
We were taken aback. No search warrant had been released among the 11,000
pages ofpolice reports. If one existed, it would prove that everything n^' parents had
been saying for the past two years was true. The police had insisted that there had
been no follow-up investigation, that the Web site couldn't be accessed, and that n^
parents had never rret with Detective Hicks or with the bomb squad. If a search
warrant was out there, it was inperative that we get hold ofit to prove them wrong.
My parents fexed a copy of the letter to 60 Minutes II. From there, CBS took the
ball and ran with it. TTie show's attorney went to Jeffiio with the letter in hand and
demanded that the search warrant be released. With their help, we uncovered the
The release of the search warrant was major news in Denver. For the Browns, it
marked vindication after two years of being told they were lying.
The affidavit was prepared by the Jefferson County Sheriffs Office in March of
1998. According to the affidavit, a pipe bomb that had been found in a field one
month before matched Eric Harris's description of his homemade bombs on his
Bomb squad member Mike Guerra wrote in the affidavit that "the size (of the
bombs) is consistent with the devices labeled by Harris as 'Atlanta 'and 'Phobus. "'
Yet the proposed search warrant had never been presented to a judge.
"I'm happy to learn more of the truth, "Brian Rohrhough told CNN on April 10.
"They had denied this application existed. Columbine should never have happened.
It begs the question, 'Why did you deceive everyone? "'
A month later. Sheriff Stone would claim that "there was no attempt to hide
documents" showing that investigators wanted to search Eric Harris's home in
1998. "I thought it was fairly well known, " he said in a television interview. "We
weren 't trying to hide anything. . . . Nobody asked for it. "
Stone's assertion was false. Judge Brooke Jackson had ordered the sheriff's
department to release all of its Columbine files, except for those the judge
specifically wanted withheld. By not releasing the affidavit, police had directly
disobeyed the judge's order.
"People criticize the media for being negative, " Randy Brown says today. "I'll
tell you, the Sheriffs Department was lying to us for two years, and none of this
would have gotten out if it weren't for the media. Without them, we would be
It n^anl everything to my lamily to finally have proofthat we'd been telling the
truth. But at the same time, it was hard to be happy when we saw that search warrant.
Had the warrant been approved by a judge, I believe everything would have been
diferent. Hie police would have found the pipe bonis. They would have found Eric's
journals, and the violent writings on his conputer. He would have been stopped.
Instead, that chance slipped through the cracks.
OVER A YEAR AFTER JUDGE BROOKE JACKSON ORDERED THE RELEASE of
all Columbine material, the new revelations kept coming.
In March of 2002, crime-scene photos from the Columbine murders were leaked
to the media. The Rocky Mountain News published a detailed account of the
photos, but spared the public from the sight of them; however, the paper also
cautioned that the photos were circulating throughout Denver. The Denver Post
warned that it was only a matter of time before the photos were picked up by a
tabloid or posted on the Internet.
Randy Brown condemned Stone for the mistake, saying that if his office
couldn 't even keep crime scene photos under wraps, he should resign. Parents of the
victims were horrified; Tom Mauser told the Rocky Mountain News, "If it was their
child that was murdered, would they want that picture shown to other people? It's
beyond me. "
It wasn't the first such leak. In November 2001 , the journals of Eric Harris were
also leaked to the media. Those Journals contained detailed plans by Harris to
attack Columbine High School, as well as an entry that described in detail what
Harris wanted to do to Brooks. Harris had been plotting to break into the Brown
home on the morning of the attack, kill Brooks and his family, and burn down their
house before moving on to Columbine and continuing the slaughter there.
Had the search warrant drafted by the police been served, these writings
probably would have been found as well.
In late 2001, a witness came forward to say that a member of the SWAT team at
Columbine feared he had "accidentally shot a student" during the attack.
According to Brian Rohrbough, that student was his son Daniel. Bullet shells from
police were found all around Daniel's body, and investigators recovered only one of
the three bullets that killed him. Furthermore, police officer Jim Taylor told Brian
Rohrbough that he had seen Daniel killed while running from Eric and Dylan —
which didn't explain how Daniel was shot from the front, at the angle of someone
Daniel's parents tape-recorded this conversation. When the police issued a
statement from Taylor saying he had never told Brian he'd seen Daniel shot, Brian
produced the tape. Taylor was placed on leave the next day
Despite these new revelations, in November 2001 U.S. District Judge Lewis
Babcock threw out all of the Columbine families' lawsuits except that of Angela
Sanders. The judge described the slow police response to dying teacher Dave
Sanders as "shocking to the conscience of this federal court. "
However, he wrote in response to the other suits that "holding police officers
liable in hindsightforeveryinjurious consequence of their actions would paralyze
the functions of law enforcement. "
Under pressure, Sheriff Stone asked investigators from the nearby El Paso
CountySheriffs Office to conduct theirown investigation of Rohrbough's death.
However, the investigation would be conducted behind closed doors, with no
involvement from the families — and no promise of new information.
With the support of Colorado Governor Bill Owens, the victims' families
requested that a grand Jury be convened to investigate Columbine. That request was
denied. The families were told by U.S. Attorney John Suthers that even if there was
evidence linking a police officer with Daniel Rohrbough's death, Suthers still
wouldn't see reason to call for such an investigation.
The families had one option left. They pressed for a legislative investigation of
the Columbine massacre at the state level. They received backing from State
Representative Don Lee, who proposed a bill creating a committee that would have
full subpoena powers.
This would be the first-ever investigation to have that ability; the Columbine
Review Commission had been unable to force Sheriff Stone or other responding
officers to testify. The committee would also be able to subpoena records that were
not available to the general public.
On March 8, 2002, survivors and their families went to the state capital for a
hearing to determine whether such a panel would be created. The House Civil
Justice and Judiciary Committee conducted the hearing.
The lawsuits had been thrown out. Open-records requests had failed. This was
the families' last chance to learn the truth about what had happened at Columbine.
Brooks and his parents made plans to speak before the committee that day. It
was the first time Brooks would appear in public alongside the parents of the kids
he had been accused of plotting against.
I arrived at the hearing a few minutes late. I'd given Richard Castaldo a ride there,
and we'd been held up by the downtown Denver traffic. By the time we arrived and
got Richard's wheelchair unloaded and asseni)led, Representative Lee had already
given his opening statement.
However, I was there in time to see the Jefferson County Sheriffs Office put on a
show as it defended its actions.
Investigator Kate Battan and Jeffi;o's attorney, Bill Tuthill, sat before the
committee as their assistants wheeled boxes of evidence tiles into the room I heard
one ofthe victims' parents conpare it to the scene in Miracle on 34th Street where all
of the letters get brought into the courtroom and dumped on the judge's desk,
overflowing onto the floor.
Tuthill described how open his department had been with the public. "The
Jeferson County Sheriffs Department, over the course ofthe last few years, has
produced a phenomenal, unheralded amount of material in unprecedented volumes
during this particular investigation," he said. "They are available not only to the
news media, but to the femilies ofthe victims and to the public at large.
"The truth is, contrary to what you may read in the papers or hear from sorre
constituents, a wealth of information concerning what happened at Columbine High
School has already been produced," Tuthill continued. "There is no need to go
through this legislative inquiry in order to obtain additional information."
The floor was opened to comments from the public. The first to speak were those
opposed; one ofthem, Rachel Erbert, was a former classmate ofmine.
"I think the answers that many people are looking for, to give closure, are not
going to be found out in this lifetirre," she said. "For me personally, I can't get
closure with this in the newspaper every single day. And I think it's going to
increase the hurt."
Another local resident went on to criticize my fether and Brian Rohrbough at
length, referring to their efforts as "bulldog persistence." The speaker, who claimed
that his wife, a reporter, had been "traumatized" by a story she did on Colun4>ine,
said there would be no purpose served by any frirther investigation.
" Every time this comes up on the front page . . . it's re-traumatizing people who
were involved." he said. " Sorre ofthese people are femily members, some ofthem are
students who were in the schooL some of themare people in the sheriffs department. . .
Is it worth going through this process again for what little we're going to learn? I
don't think it is."
I looked over at Richard, watching the proceedings intently fromhis wheelchair.
We spoke briefly, and with only a few minutes to spare, I began penciling in some
changes to the speech I was about to give. Then they called n^ name.
I came forward and sat down before the nine-merriber committee. Behind me were
the Rohrboughs and the Petrones, the Velasquezes and the Kechters, the Flemings,
Lauren Townsend's mother, rr^ parents, n^ friends . . . and on the other side, there was
Kate Battan, and the representatives ofthe Jeferson County Sheriffs OflSce.
I cleared n^ throat and began.
I'm Brooks Brown, and I'm here representing myself. I would like to
apologize, because Richard Castaldo won 't be testifying. He really didn 't
have too much to say. He's been rather sad lately. But he and I talk a lot
about Columbine. He and I have kind of grown into a friendship.
I've seen Richie change. I saw him before Columbine; he was a real
outgoing kid. He's changed a lot since it happened. Yet I sat back there
and I asked him, after I heard all those people testify, whether he feels
You see, Richie's paralyzed. You can't miss him; he's back there in the
wheelchair, because he got shot in the spine. But he hears about
Columbine, and it doesn 't re-traiiiuatize him.
In my case, my friends did this. And I was called "murderer" for
months afterward. John Stone maligned my name many times. So did
other people, saying I was a possible suspect. And my parents, as you saw
up here— Randy and Judy Brown — they are maligned all the time.
It doesn 't re-traumatize them. It doesn 't re-traumatize me. It makes me
sad, but it doesn't re-traumatize me.
There are a lot of kids who remember what (hat school was. and they
remember what Eric and Dylan and people like me went through — the
outcasts. They look at it in a different way than most of the other people
do. They won't be here testifying today, because they're scared that what
happened to me may happen to them.
They say we've learned lessons from Columbine; I would like to state
that while we may have — and while we may have become more strict
about certain things — there were still things before Columbine that were
illegal, and Eric and Dylan got away with them.
It was sTill illegal in Jeffco, before Columbine, to create pipe bombs.
My parents and I reported a Web page where Eric laid out detailed plans
about these pipe bombs. His names for them. What he wanted to do with
them. And on there, he wished that he could kill me.
We reported it, but somehow Eric got away with it. They would
probably jump on it now, if they had a second chance; they probably
wouldn't want all of this egg on their face. But it still happened back
then. They did prepare a search warrant; thanks to 60 Minutes II, we did
find that. But we don't know why it was stopped. Why all of that
happened is a question that I personally want answered.
I heard the first speaker say this, and it's something that was rather
upsetting. They said that Eric and Dylan wished they would get this kind
Eric and Dylan arc dead. They lost. They died that day. And if you're
religious, they are in hell. Having a bad time. They did not win.
What we are to do is to come away from this and learn things from it.
We are to learn what happened beforehand. What led up to it. That
includes the school. That includes bullying. I know when I spoke with
Representative Lee before, he mentioned that he wanted to talk to some of
the students without any subpoenas, so as not to re-traumatize them. I
thought that was great. I could get him a number of students who could
do it. They want to talk about how that school was. They want people to
know. They just don 't want to be called a murderer, or "hateful. " It's not
Richie will never get closure. I will never get closure. This will be a
mark on my future forever. Kids died. They were shot. Other kids ran over
their bodies. Other kids had to lie there and watch their friends die. This
isn't something you get closure for. This is something that you learn to
There is hate of the government. It's starting with teens, and you see it
all over the place. There is a distrust. We watched on April 20 as cops
stood oursidc ^vlii/c kids died inside. While a teacher died inside. We see
this, and we see them give ont medals.
There is something wrong in this poliee department. And that is why I
hope, Representative Lee, that you push this through. Because there is a
lot to be learned. Thankyou.
The chairman opened the floor to questions. Representative Shawn Mitchell
pointed out thai rry concerns about Cokmibine were more e5q>ansive than what the
proposed committee would cover. He asked if I still felt the committee would be
worthwhile ifit didn't address those questions.
" I conpletely understand that," I replied. " But n^ feelings are that once you get
into one part of it — as I'm sure anyone who has gone into the pages in-depth has —
you will find that one thing leads to another, which leads to another, which leads to
another. And it kind ofsnowballs, and you slowly see how this huge thing built up.
While it may be extremely expansive, it's all there. And you'll see it."
There were no further questions. My testimony concluded, I sat down as n:y fether
took his place before the committee.
"Today, you were all lied to by the Jeferson County attorney," he said. "And I
can prove that."
My fether described his long battle to extract information fi^om the Jefferson
County Sheriffs Office. He talked about filing requests for police maps through the
Freedom of Information Act, and being told that he was being given every map
available. Later, in a conference room, he saw maps that he had not been given, and
photographed them. Now n^ fether presented those photographs to the committee as
proofthat the police had lied.
My fether went on to say:
/ believe that Jefferson County has withheld a great deal of
information. To document that further, we have a photograph of John
Kiekbusch with 300 notebooks, instead of the pitifully small amount
shown here. We also have another attorney for another lawsuit, who says
that Jefferson County has told him that there are 54 "banker boxes " of
evidence files. You see before you approximately five.
Distrust of the government is the main key here. I'm forty-nine years
old. I'm a taxpayer. I no longer trust Jefferson County in anyway I have
been lied to by so many people there that there are very few people there I
would trust with any result. And I believe it's possible that if I feel that
way, then many other people feel that way That possibly, Columbine is
going to have the end result of losing public confidence in the
government in general.
Until somebody does something — and gentlemen, that's your job. It
will happen right here, or it won 't happen.
My mother spoke before the committee next. She described the ordeal our femily
had been through ever since we found Eric's Web pages, and noted that nowhere in
the released Coluinbine files is there any record ofher meeting with Detective Hicks.
She argued that a legislative committee would have the subpoena power necessary to
get to the bottomofwhat happened:
My questions are: What happened to my report? What happened to
every report? What do I need to do differently as a citizen? Should I still
call the police? Should I still assume they are doing their job? I want to
know what lean do differently; to this day, I do not know.
When people call me — when parents call me because they know I was
in this situation, and they ask me what should they do — I don't know what
to tell them. Would I trust the police? Absolutely not. I would not trust
the police. I don't know what to do, and that's wrong.
Before all of this happened, I put all of my faith— I put my son's life —
in the hands of the police. Now, my son is here today, and I am very
fortunate that my sons are here. But there are other people behind me
whose kids are NOT here, and this is wrong. And if you don't jind this
important enough to find out what happened in this police department,
so that we can know and be assured these corrections can be made . . . If
they will not address what happened to our stuff— how can we know that
the police are following up on these things? How do we know that
changes are being made?
Committee rrember Alice Madden tried to synpathize with ni^ mother, telling her
she worried lhal the femilies " wouldn't walk away with the truth."
" I think Ihc worst thing that could happen is to go through this and not give
you the answers that you want," Madden said. " I worry about a political body in an
election year, doing this . . ."
"This may be our last hope," mother quickly replied. "I think it would be
worthwhile ifyou could get at least some ofthe things out. Alot ofinportant changes
could be made. We really need to get into the deeper issues, and find out the truth. We
need to find out what happens when a citizen goes to the police, and what they
should ejq)ect. . .
"We're telling kids, 'Report it.' For what? What are they going to do? We don't
have answers, and it's been almost three years. In truth, I don't know where to go
Hie first ofthe Coluni>ine victims' parents to speak was Dawn Anna, mother of
" The worst action you could take today is inaction," she told them " Ladies and
gentlemen, ifyou don't try, we may never know the truth about what happened. You
represent me. Us. People ofColorado. Does that also include children?"
Mrs. Anna brought up questions about how her daughter had died in the library,
and asked why the police had made no rmve to stop it:
/ have serious questions about the timeline where my daughter is
eoneerned, as well as other ehildreu who were killed. . .
I have questions when there is an open line recording the murders one
by one, and the injuries occurring in the library one by one, and we know
the location of the two murderers in the library. We know what they're
doing: they are injuring and murdering children.
They have a specific location... and then, as the two murderers leave
the library, the children who are able to get up and run out. They run to a
door that leads to the exterior, to the outside. They come through that
door and into the waiting arms of uniformed officers. And many of them
are telling those officers two very important things: that there are
children injured and possibly dead in that room, and that the two
murderers [havej left, and that is why they were able to escape.
Yet those same policemen do not go through the doors those children
just safely exited. In fact, the library is one of the last places [the police
reached]. I don't know why. I have heard that they thought the door was
booby-trapped. Yet all these children who survived that attack just ran
through that door.
I have, heard that they thought bodies were hoohv-trapped . Danny's
body, Rachel's body, were moved. The children coining out of that library
who said the murderers were gone said nothing about booby-trapped
bodies. Yet it takes four hours to get into that library.
These are serious, serious questions that I have. And your body, with
subpoena power, can bring forth some of those policemen who are
wanting to testify and provide that kind of information. They've never
been able to provide it.
Mrs. Anna noted that many ofthe fenilies are in therapy, and that the only way
truly find closure is to understand what happened. She argued:
We have to face what happened that day, and in the days following, so
that then we can progress down the road to recovery.
How can we do that with the truth still hidden, rewritten, destroyed,
and covered up?
You don't have to know exactly what to do with the information you
uncover during this investigation. You simply need to begin the process.
A process — the only one so far — with subpoena power, to allow those who
have been waiting to be deposed and come forward and testify, and let the
truth out. The courts, the judges, the lawyers, the therapists, the
educators can take whatever information you find to the next level, so
that all of those processes can begin to finally heal our community, and
heal our nation.
Please don't let the costs of this investigation be your motivating
factor in deciding whether you do this investigation. In fact, they should
not be a factor at all. The cost of NOT doing this investigation will be
incalculable. The lack of faith and trust in our legislators will be a high
toll. The cost of the next massacre, wherever that may occur, will be
immeasurable. I do not want to be the one who tells people like those of
Santee, California, that an investigation could have led to the prevention
of the murders at that school, but the cost was too high.
Am I reaching too far with this reasoning? You know I am not. There
will be more tragedy in our schools. Why? Because we have no answers
here. Our past will be, because it has already become, our future, if we
don 't change. If we don 't act.
Brian Rohrbough followed Mrs. Anna. He told the committee, All I want is the
truth," and detailed the discrepancies over his son's death. "When we asked them
questions about it, they absolutely re&sed to answer," he said of the police. "We
asked fcr additional meetings; they refiised. Our only answers came from going to
court in an open-records case, and by filing a lawsuit. And we should not have had to
Mr. Rohrbough also brought up the search warrant, adding that it might have
kept the entire Columbine incident from ever happening. He wanted to know why it
had never been served.
" One or two people who are dishonest can discredit an entire agency," he said.
" And I would like you to put feith back in government. To show the people that the
police really are accountable. 1 think this committee can do that."
Kyle Velasquez's fether, Al, also spoke to the committee about his son. The police
had told him that Kyle was killed instantly in the library, and that he had no idea
what was happening. Yet Mr. Velasquez learned later that his son was fcund curled up
underneath a table in the library, hiding fromEric and Dylan.
" Can you imagine what happens to us when we find out the truth?" he said. " It's
like it happened again.
"I honestly believe that you are our last hope," he continued. "I'm asking you,
please. In the memory ofour kids, help us."
The commiltee took a briefrecess while the rest ofus stood outside, not knowing
what would happen. By now, we had heard three hours of testimony. Every aspect of
the case, from Eric and Dylan's motives to the immediate police response to Sheriff
Stone's behavior in the years afterward, had been laid out on the table. It was in the
Discussion ofthe proposal was very brief Lee defended it one last time, arguing
that, while Columbine had been investigated before, a legislative committee would
grant the subpoena power necessary to extract new intbnnation.
" There have been a lot ofissues raised today," he said. " And I'mnot saying that I
think this committee is going to get into those specifics. But through the documents
that we obtain, and the testimony of people who thus fer have either been less
inclined to testify because of litigation, or have not been totally open, it gives us an
The committee members responded with nothing but doubts.
" I guess my lear is that this tasic lorce is going to create felse hopes that we will
be able to deal with all these issues," said Representative Betty Boyd.
"You've had no answers in the past," added Representative Jim Snook. "You
have a lot ofquestions. You haven't been satisfied with the answers you got, or else
you got no answers. I'm of the judgment that the answers you're going to get, ifthis
committee is successfiil, will be vague answers."
The chairman put the resolution to vote as the roomfell silent.
Stengel took a moment. " This is the hardest vote I ever gave. No."
The recorder turned to Representative Lee and called his name.
" Yes," Lee said, the defeat in his voice apparent.
" Mr. Chairman."
Even as he offired the only other fevorable vote. Chairman Shawn Mitchell knew
it was already over "Tliat motion tails, 7 to 2," he said. "There is a motion to
postpone indefinitely the resolution, forwarded by Representative Madden and
seconded by Representative Bacon. Please call the roll."
Again, the vote was 7 to 2.
At the back of the room, ir^ fether stood up and looked down the row of the
House Civil Justice and Judiciary Committee.
" Shame on you," he said quietly.
We had no idea that the deck had been stacked against us fromthe start.
Hie next day, the Rocky Mountain News ran a story entitled " Jeffco Pressured
Lawmakers." According to writer Kevin Vaughn, officials from Jeffirson County had
been actively lobbying against the investigation behind closed doors, even inviting
the committee numbers to their offices to discuss the bill. The officials kept this
information secret fromRepresentative Lee, who was sponsoring the bill.
We had no idea about this at the time. We had no idea that the police had already
influenced the conmttee menters before we even walked in the door. We believed
that our words were going to make a diffirence.
Now the hope we had been filled with when we walked into that roomwas gone.
We exited in defeat, realizing that at last we had come to the end of the road. Hiere
would be no answers. The police had won.
I gave rny mother a hug, then went outside to smoke a cigarette with rr^ friends,
stunned by the injustice ofit all. I helped Richard into the front seat, then loaded up
his wheelchair and started the car. We drove quietly through the streets ofdowntown
Denver, headed for home.
"It makes you wonder what the systemis there for," Richard said after a moment.
I looked over at him I recognized the look ofhopelessness in his fece.
IN THE SPRING OF 2002, THERE WERE OVER A DOZEN CANDIDATES lining
up to take on John Stone fer the role of Jefeson County Sheriff Many ofthe victims'
fenilies braced for what was sure to be an ugly, drawn-out campaign that fell.
However, Stone saved themthe trouble.
On April 5 , Stone announced that he wouldn't be seeking re-election. He told the
media that while his office had been a "dream job," the Columbine massacre had
turned it into a " nightirarc'" and a " living hell."
"We did the best wc could under inpossible circumstances and have been
punished for it ever since," he told the Denver Post.
" You've got a tar baby that no matter who touched it, they are not going to walk
away fromit," he told the Rocky Mountain News. "I still think we did everything we
could do [at Colunbine] under irrpossible circumstances and by the rules — as the
rules were at that time."
My parents issued their own joint statement in response to Stone's
"His arrogance has been unbelievable lo us." Ihcy said. "It is about tinx he
admitted to himselfthat the people of Jefto don't want a man who is so deceitful and
lacking in character as John P. Stone."
On April 11, The El Paso County Sheriff's Office completed its four-
month probe into Daniel Rohrbough's death. The .Jefferson County
Sheriff's Office had asked El Paso to do its own independent review of
how Daniel had been shot, to clear up questions brought forth by
Daniel's father, Brian. Not only had Brian produced evidence arguing
that Dylan Klehold could not have shot Daniel, hut he had further
suggested that a police officer might have been the shooter instead.
Among the evidence Brian Rohrhough pointed to was the trajectory of
the bullets that hit Daniel, the fact that police shells were found all
around his body, and that two ofthe three bullets that hit him were never
For over a week, the public wasn't told what El Paso had found.
Jefferson County District Attorney Dave Thomas said he wouldn't he
releasing its contents until after the three-vear anniversary of the
shootings on April 20, "out of respect for the Columbine co mm unity. "
In response, Brian Rohrbough called for the report's immediate
release, as did the families of other Columbine victims. Thomas relented,
and on April 1 7 — three days before the anniversary — the public learned
what El Paso had found.
El Paso cleared the police of having shot Daniel Rohrbough, but they
also found that things had happened differently than Jefferson County
had claimed in its original report two years before. Ballistics
determined that Eric Harris, not Dylan Klebold, had fired the deadly
"The murder of Daniel Rohrbough at Columbine High School on
April 20, 1999, was undeniably caused by Eric Harris beyond any
reasonable doubt, " read the report summary.
Hie week before the three-year anniversary ofColumbine, rr^' parents told me we
were going to a screening of a new A&E docurrentary. Columbine: Understanding
Why The hour-long show, part ol'A&H's Investigative Reports series, centered on a
group of forensic scientists who had spent months conducting a "psychiatric
autopsy" ofEric and Dylan, in an attenpt to determine why they'd done what they'd
done. The team was made up of a psychiatrist, a violence prevention e3q>ert, a former
FBI profiler, and a doctoral candidate.
The documentary had attracted attention because it had been specifically
requested by the district attorney back in 1999. Because of that, we were curious
about what this team had been granted access to, and what they nright have
My fenily watched the show alongside the femilies of Daniel Rohrbough. Kyle
Velasquez, and Kelly Fleming. It was the first time I had seen Mrs. Fleming since that
day at her house the summer afler the shootings. It never stops feeling awkward to be
in a room with the parents of a Coluniine victim, no matter how many times I see
them The guilt I feel for having been fiiends with their children's killers never really
However, that night we were united in our disappointment over the investigative
team's efert. Afier a long recapping of the shooting, complete with drum-heavy
atmospheric misic, the investigators talked about the lengthy research they were
going to do.
"As they conduct their psychiatric autopsy of the Colunijine High School
killers, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the threat assessment group needs to talk to
as imny people as possible who knew the boys throughout different stages and in
diffirent situations in their lives."
That's funny, 1 thought. 1 don't ever remember these people calling me.
Not only that, but the documentary never mentioned the Web pages rr^ femily
turned in. There were flaws throughout the piece, but this was a glaring omission.
That and the pro-police slant ofthe documentary were what really bothered me.
The victims' femilies mentioned to the Rocky Mountain News reporters that it
seemed like the district attorney had been fer more help&l to outside investigators
than he had been to any ofthem 1 sat there contenplating that, and realizing that what
we'd just seen was going to be aired to the nation in just a lew n'Drc days.
If people don't already know what happened here, this is the version they will
believe, I thought. People will believe that the police did everything they could.
People will believe that there were no obvious warning signs. People will believe
that this couldn't have been prevented.
I thought back to a quote fromMark Twain.
" Truth is stranger than fiction," he said. " Because fiction has to make sense."
The truth was that the victims' families had reached the end of the road.
After the defeat of the proposed legislative commission to investigate
Columbine, Representative Don Lee of Littleton made a second attempt. This time,
instead of a sweeping probe of the Columbine incident, Lee narrowed the proposed
investigation to three questions:
• What can be learned from the law enforcement response on April 20, 1999,
in preparation for another attack?
• What can he learned from the response to the complaint filed with the
Jefferson County Sheriffs Office alleging that gunman Eric Harris was
making death threats over the Internet?
• What can be learned in regard to destructive behavior exhibited in the
school environment by the perpetrators in the time leading up to the
At first, the newly refined proposal met with success. The bill passed through
the House State, Veterans and Military AJf airs Committee on an 8-1 vote, and then
on through the full House on a 39-24 vote. But the bill was defeated by the Senate
Judiciary Committee with a 4-3 vote. Even with a narrowed f)cus, lawmakers did
not feel the need to investigate Columbine any further.
"We fought a good fight, " Lee told the Denver Post on May 7. "I don't regret
putting all of my efforts into doing the right thing. "
In a study released on May 14, 2002 by the National School Board Association,
seventy-seven percent of 837 school board members polled across the country
considered school violence to be a "moderate" or "mild" concern. Only one in nine
educators called it a "major concern." The week before the survey came out, a
student in Ehrfurt, Germany, opened fire at his high school, killing seventeen before
turning the gun on himself.
On April 18,2002 — two days before the three-year anniversary of the
Columbine shootings — two Columbine High School students were suspended after
they left a hit list written on a wooden pillar in Clement Park. The list named eleven
students and two staff members. The students face criminal charges.
While manv were turning their hacks on the events of Columbine, one
investigative team remained. A records review task force, made up of both law
enforcement officials and members of the community, was going through the
remaining Columbine evidence that had not yet been released by the courts.
On April 17, in a moment that shocked many observers, the panel named its
newest member: Randy Brown. Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar appointed
him in the belief that Brown would ask the right questions.
"This gives the committee credibility in the eyes of the victims families. " Brian
Rohrbough told Kevin Simpson of the Denver Post. "Very few people have studied
the volumes of records like he has — and nobody who's not involved in litigation or
a member of the media. Putting Randy on lets us know that the committee will have
to consider everything. "
Randy Brown said later that Salazar's decision was a positive step forward.
"I really couldn 't believe it when they asked me, " he said. "My wife and I had
met with Salazar only a few days beforehand, and he didn 't give any indication that
he was thinking about doing this. But I think he wants to get to the truth of what
happened, so it was very encouraging. "
As soon as he was asked to join, Brown started talking to people to find out
what evidence they still believed hadn 't been released. He already had a list of fifty-
nine items that he had presented at a previous meeting.
"What they've promised is that we will get to see everything the police have, " he
said. "And then we'll offer our opinions on which of those files should be made
Brown made it clear that he supported releasing Eric and Dylan's basement
tapes, to help the public understand why they did what they did. To allay fears that
the tapes could lead to copycat violence. Brown said the photos of Eric and Dylan
lying dead in the library should be released as well.
"If there are people who think that Eric and Dylan were heroes, those photos
will take away that 'hero 'status right away, " he said. "No matter how messed up
someone is, I don't see how they could think that Eric and Dylan did anything
glorious after seeing how they ended up. "
However, Brown was interested in more than just releasing what the public
already knew existed. Soon after his appointment, Brown showed the rest of the
committee a page from the recently released El Paso report. The page looked like a
duplicate of evidence provided by Jefferson County in its public report, but it had a
different index number from the one in the files released to the public.
Brown pointed to that discrepancy as evidence that Jefferson County had been
withholding information, and wanted to ask investigator Kate Battan about it.
Battan didn 't attend the meeting. Her spokeswoman said she had fallen ill.
Finding out that n:^ fether would be on the task force was incredible news. It was
like one small victory after years ofdefeat.
As of this writing, the task force's work is still not finished. I don't know
whether Eric and Dylan's videotapes will ever be released to the public or not, or
whether new evidence will be uncovered that none of us have ever seen before. Like
everything else in Jefferson County's handling ofthe Coluniine case, it's a n^'stery.
However, one new piece of evidence concerning n^' fenily did see the light of
day. By court order, the Jeflerson County police were forced to release copies of all
search warrants from the day of the shooting, including the warrants for both the
HaiTis and Klebold residences, and lists ofall iteins seized fromthose locations.
In the search warrant for Dylan Klebold's home, among the items investigators
said they wanted to find were " any information on Eric Harris's Web page, Web site
or in his e-mail file, namely http://me niters. aol.conVrebdoiTiine.pissed.htm "
On April 21, 1999, another search warrant noted:
Your affiant discovered a report made to the Jefferson County
Sheriffs Office on March 18, 1998, 98-5504, by Randy Brown. Randy
Brown stated that Eric Harris was making death threats toward his son,
Brooks Brown. Randy Brown provided ten pages of material copied from
Eric Harris's Web page to Deputy Mark Miller. One of the printouts
reads, "Wie gehts. Well all you people out there can just kiss my ass and
die. From now on I don't give a fuck what almost any of you mutha fuckas
have to say, unless I respect you which is highly unlikely, but for those of
you who know me and know that I respect you may peace be with you and
don't be in my line of fire. For the rest of you, you all better fucking hide
in your houses because im comin [sic] for EVERYONE soon, and I WILL
be armed to the fuckin teeth and I WILL shoot to kill and I will fucking
KILL EVERYTHING!" (Jefaon County Search Warrant, Investigator
Cheryl Zimtrerman, 4/2 1/99)
I wasn't expecting this at all.
As I read it, the anger built up within me. A year ago, 60 Minutes II had
uncovered the drali for a search warrant in 1998 that never was served; that was hard
enough to learn about. But now, here was written proof that within a day of the
shooting, they'd used the infonnation n^ &mily had provided to search the homes of
Eric and Dylan. They'd had all the variations of a Web address that they'd claimed
they weren't able to access. They'd had specific quotes from the Web pages, including
the death threats. They'd had everything. And while they were using this infonnation
to obtain search warrants, they'd called rr^ femily liars for claiming that we'd warned
them They'd pointed fingers at me as a possible suspect. They'd turned everyone
And they knew. The whole time.
This was vindication, even more than the search warrant a year ago had been. But
it didn't make me feel any better. I didn't want to see this infcrmation handed down
now, wlien it wouldn't do any good anymore.
I wanted it used in 1 998. 1 wanted Eric Harris caught.
I wanted Columbine never to have happened.
No matter what we leam about the police behavior that day, or what they did to
me, or to &mily — no matter how much vindication I might find — it will always be
a hollow victory. Search warrants won't bring Danny Rohrbough back to life, or
Rachel, or Kyle, or any of them They won't give back Richard's ability to walk. They
won't save Eric and Dylan frombecoming what they became.
It's inportant to know the truth. It's important to keep going, and not to lose
hope in the fece ofthe police.
But it won't ever give us back what we lost that day.
EACH DAY ANOTHER MIND ESI OUR WORLD IS CRIPPLED. ANOTHER child
gives up. Another kid kills his friends, or himself Many people say that this happens
because the child loses hope.
People ask all the time why Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold did what they did on
April 20, 1999. 1 believe it was hopelessness. They saw no real fiiture for themselves,
and no acceptance fromthose around them They became self-hating. Then they started
to hate those around them Then they became angry, and then they became violent.
Finally, in one insane, twisted moment, they believed they had power over a world
that had kept themdown.
Eric and Dylan came at Coluni>ine from diffirent places. Eric was mentally
imbalanced. He had clear bipolar tendencies and was being treated with medication.
He had a lascination with death, with firearms, and with rising above his tormenters,
and his mental instability fiieled that.
Dylan was angry with society, with the hand he had been dealt, and with a world
where he couldn't go a day without being spat at, mocked, or told he wasn't good
enough. He was made to believe that his dreams could never happen, and that the
world would never get better.
This is the hopelessness that many kids in high school share.
What was unusual about Eric and Dylan was the way they withdrew from
everyone else and fed each other's delusions. They kept their beliefe to themselves,
figuring the rest of the world would never understand them. They developed God
conplexes. What shreds of ethics they may have had left were destroyed as they
retreated more and more into their own world.
Eric was probably the one who formulated the plan for attacking Columbine. Yet
he and Dylan had become so close that it was easy for himto convince his friend. " We
don't have to take this shit lying down," I imagine them thinking. " These fiicks don't
deserve to live. They aren't even on our level. We understand what the world is about.
They don't. Just think what kind of an inpact we could have — ^what kind of a
statement we could make — ifwe did this."
To the rest of us, it sounds insane. Perhaps if Eric had said this when he and
Dylan first met, Dylan would have thought it insane as well. But with the formation
ofthat bond that only the closest of fiiends can know, Dylan came to look up to Eric.
He trusted in him He wasn't getting the answers he wanted anywhere else.
I knew Dylan long enough to know that he didn't start out as a monster He
became one. That's what makes his fete so scary.
The next Dylan could be your son. Your neighbor. Your best friend. Not sorre
feceless, anonyrmus killer who comes out ofthe dark and snatches your loved ones. A
regular person who feces the cruelty ofthe real world just like the rest ofus — and in
whomsomething erodes away over time.
It's too late to stop Eric and Dylan. But maybe ifwe realize what we're doing to
one another and take action now, we can save the kids who would otherwise go
down the same path.
Not all kids become hopeless at an early age like Eric and Dylan did. Some hold
on to their ideals, and fight for change. I respect them so much, because, as 1 learned,
the political machine can prove a formidable challenge.
In the summer of2001, 1 got a call fromDavid Winkler of SAFE Colorado. SAFE
(Sane Altematives to the Firearms Epidemic) Colorado is a group ofteenage activists
based in Denver. They often inake trips to Washington, D.C. to lobby senators and
congressmen; Winkler told me they were planning such a trip for late July. Their
purpose was to tight for a change in gun show legislation, one that would require all
sellers to run background checks on customers.
I agreed to go along. This would be n^ first chance to visit the nation's capital as
a lobbyist, meet with politicians, and get an up-close look at the political machine.
We were hit with disappointment once we arrived. One of our own state
representatives, Republican Scott Mclniss of Grand Junction, refiised to so much as
meet with us. His spokesman argued that because Mclniss had met with members of
the group two years ago — right after the Columbine shootings — and because SAFE
Colorado had a diffirent stance on guns than he did, he didn't care to speak with us
on this trip.
" We feel their points are the same and our points are the same, so there's really
not naich more to discuss," spokesman Blain Rethmeier told the Rocky Mountain
On the way to Washington, Fd talked with a lot ofthe SAFE Colorado kids. They
were simrt, idealistic kids wlio believed they could imke a di&rence. Now they were
being told that their own congressman wouldn't give them the time ofday.
We did get to meet with other meniers ofCongress. It was educational, to say the
least. I had come for an up-close look at what the system was really like, and that's
exactly what I got.
People talk all the time about how Washington is corrupt. It's not exactly a
revelation. However, it's a diferent experience to be in the halls ofCongress, talking
with a senator, when her aide inlbrms her that one ofher allies has suddenly switched
his vole. She looks down and says under her breath, " Well, 1 wonder what he got."
At one point 1 was in the room with two congressrren, and 1 overheard one of
them talking with his aide. They were preparing a photo with members of the SAFE
Colorado contingent. Ibe congressman asked, " Did you make sure you have a mixed
I tried to do some lobbying with a freshman representative. He wasn't there when
1 came to his office, but his aides talked to me. They were extren^ly honest about their
stance on gun control. " Here's how it is," one ofthemsaid. " We're brand new in this
office; we still don't understand how Congress works. All I know is that what helped
us get here is our gun stance, and we can't change that or else the National Rifle
Association will take our fiinding away. So what else can we do?"
I appreciated that honesty, even ifthe message was pretty upsetting. Many other
members ofCongress wouldn't even talk to us, or else they dodged our questions.
After our first day of lobbying, I sat around talking with other kids from SAFE
Colorado. They were so fiiistrated. Most ofthemwere younger than me, and they were
so fill! ofideals. They really cared. They wanted to bring about change.
The ejq^erience of seeing Washington in action had brought many of them down.
They were realizing that this trip wasn't going to affict anything; the system was £tr
too massive and corrupt for them to change. All that went through mind was that
this was the rmment when their hope was being broken, like so many others before
That thought affected the hell out ofn'E. 1 had seen enough hopelessness. It was
time to prove that we could get something done.
I sat down with David Winkler and Ben Gelt, two other guys from the program
They felt the same way I did. After brainstorming, we came up with an idea for a new
project. Using their camera, the three of us wanted to find the top six senators and
congressmen who were opposed to gun legislation and get interviews with them on
tape. We could then put together a filmabout our experiences once we got home.
In particular, we thought back to Representative Scott Mclniss, who had
snubbed our group the day befcre. We were going to make him talk to us, one way or
Hie next day, Ben and I went to Mclniss's office with Ben's video camera. We said
we were making a movie about gun control, and that we wanted to get Mclniss's
comments on tape. They told us to sign in.
We knew Mclniss was aware that SAFE Colorado was in town, and an article
with rr^ narre had already appeared in the news; ifl signed in as Brooks Brown, there
was no way in hell that he'd talk to us. So I gave a feke name, and said nothing ofour
being involved with SAFE Colorado.
Unfortunately, someone in Mclniss's office recognized me, because they tipped off
the Congressman. He in turn called Mike Sprengelmeyer, a reporter for the Rocky
Mountain News 's Washington bureau. He told Sprengelmeyer that we were trying to
The next morning, we were called into an emergency rreeting with the heads of
SAFE Colorado. John Head, the organization's attorney, told us we had disgraced
them He said what we had done was unprofessional, and that it wouldn't be
condoned by SAFE. They told us to leave ininediately. The three of us were given
plane tickets, put in a cab, and sent home.
We were angry. Maybe we shouldn't have used a fike name, we thought, but we
were honest with Mclniss about why we were there. The questions we planned to ask
were worthwhile. All we wanted was to finally get Mchiiss to talk to us, since he'd
turned the group down bclorc. Two oihcr representatives we'd contacted were willing
to talk to us on carrera; we had a legitimate project.
Most of all, we were trying to change sorrething for the other kids in the group.
We wanted themto get something out ofthis trip after all.
David tried to ejq)lain our actions to the Rocky Mountain News. " The sad thing
here is, the point was lost that we were sinply trying to get the Congressman to
ej^lain his position," he said. " Instead, they're seeing this as an excuse to throw out
some students who are obviously committed."
I agreed conpletely. We had all learned that as long as the jerks are in power,
regular people have no influence. I had already learned thai lesson fi"om Sheriff Stone;
now I had learned it in the halls of Congress. We'd learned it from the people who
wouldn't talk to us. We'd learned it from the congressmen who had showed us
firsthand how difficult it was to go against the system We'd seen that money controls
everything in Washington. We'd seen that fer the individual who wants to bring
about change, the political road is one roadblock after another.
I was fioistrated. But I wasn't going to give up.
Hiat same summer, 1 got n^ first chance to make an inpact on the system That
chance came courtesy of filmmaker Michael Moore.
An in-your-fece investigator, Moore developed his reputation in the 1980s with
his landmark documentary Roger & Me. Hie movie was about Moore's attempts to
meet with Roger Smith, the CEO of General Motors, in the wake of a major fectory
closing in Michigan. After that, he worked on investigative-reporting shows like TV
Nation and The Awful Thuth, while continuing to make documentary filnB. He has
also written two books; Downsize This! and Stupid White Men, and Other Sorry
Excuses for theStateof theNation.
What I liked about Moore was his style. He doesn't play games with people or
try to ingratiate himself He simply tells people what's going on, in a tone with a
humorous edge to it.
I first met Moore when he was filming a documentary about guns and youth
violence, called Bowling for Columbine. He wanted to know if I would participate. I
was more than happy to.
Several months later, I heard fi"om him again. He called me up to say he was
making a visit to Kmart's headquarters in Michigan to ask them to stop selling
handgun ammtmition in their stores. Eric and Dylan had purchased their ammunition
at Kmart, so it made sense that Moore asked me ifl wanted to come along.
1 wasn't the only one; Moore invited two other Columbine students, Richard
Castaldo and Mark Taylor, as well. The three ofus flew in fromColorado in early June,
The next morning, we were picked up at the hotel and went straight over to
Kmart's headquarters, where we met up with Moore and his film crew. We wanted to
meet with the CEO of the conpany. Instead, Kmart sent down their head of public
relations, a guy frombuying, and a guy fromrisk managen^nt.
With Moore's can^ras rolling, the three ofus met with them and told our story. 1
talked about growing up with Dylan, and rr^ last conversation with Eric. Richard
and Mark talked about their injuries; Mark had been shot on the hill outside the
school, not from Richard. Both of them described the years of grueling physical
therapy they'd undergone as a result ofthe shootings.
Both Richard and Mark still have bullets from Kmart lodged in them Moore
reminded the executives of this more than once, referring to friends as " the Blue
Light Special." Richard and Mark even lifted up their shirts to show their scars to the
Since we were dealing with a corporation, we didn't know what efiect, il'any, our
words would have. Yet the Kmart executives didn't seemto resent our presence. None
of them was a typical " corporate stooge." They listened to us. One even had tears in
his eyes as we told our stories.
At the end of our meeting, they told us they weren't going to commit to any
decision — ^basically the response we had ejq>ected. We left feeling like we were offto a
good start but still had a lot ofwork ahead ofus.
The next morning, Moore called a press conference outside Knmrt's headquarters.
We figured that we were in fcr several days of keeping up the pressure on the
corporation. After all, if you've ever seen Moore's other work, you know that
executives usually ask him to leave, push him out the door, and refiise to speak with
himagain — and by now, Moore knew how to fight back.
This time, he didn't have to. Less than an hour after we arrived, Kmart announced
that they were going to pull all handgun ammunition offtheir store shelves by the
We had succeeded.
Kmart claimed that they had been planning this move for months, and that our
presentation hadn't had anything to do with the decision; whether that's actually
true is subject to debate. But that first day, we showed them that we weren't going to
giveup.Fromwhat we could tell, it had paid off
For the first time in a long while, I felt positive about the world. First, I had
gained so much respect for Kmart. Here was a corporation that went against the norm
Instead of chasing us out, or hitting us with bureaucracy, they'd invited us in,
listened to our concerns, and reacted. That inpressed the hell out ofire. In addition,
we had just removed away for teenage gunmen to acquire ammunition. I don't support
gun control, but I do support enforcing the laws we have — and it would be a lot
easier for a kid to buy bullets from some teenage clerk at Kmart than from the owner of
a gun shop. If closing this avenue discouraged just one potential shooter from
imitating Columbine, I considered it a victory.
A victory for the individual, achieved without help from the government or the
police. A victory realized not by a committee, but by a filmmaker and three teenagers.
A sign that maybe there was still hope after ail.
Working with Michael Moore was an inspiration. He saw problems in the world
and took action against them as an individual, in his own way. I wanted to make a
contribution as well. Perhaps 1 could use what 1 had experienced to make a diffirence
in some way. I knew there were other kids out there who felt lost and alone, just like
Eric and Dylan did. I wanted to find them I wanted to reach out to thembefore it was
I just had to figure out how.
One ofn^ first inspirations came fromniisic. At a KottonMouth Kings concert in
Denver, I encountered a band I'd never heard of before, called Corporate Avenger
Many oftheir lyrics centered on the injustice ofthe government and the theft ofland
from Native American people. In other words, this band was about more than just
mtJcing mxsic. These guys were interested in nsJcing people think. As luck would
have it, I ran into a few menbers ofthe band after the show, and we got into a long
We spoke at length about the idea that music had caused Coluirbine; they felt it
was ludicrous. They made it clear that they were artists expressing ideas, but that they
weren't advocating violence in any way. In feet, they were committed to opposing
violence and fear as a means of inposing thoughts and ideas. They believed in
nonviolent e?q)ression ofthought, and protecting freedomofspeech.
I mentioned that I wanted to start some kind of group for society's thinkers —
people like us, who wanted to change things through logic and reason rather than
force or violence. They told me they would love to be involved in something like
that. We talked about using the Internet somehow for that purpose.
I left that night with a new focus. I would try to reach out to the other individuals
ofthe world. The thinkers. The people who wanted to make a difference in society. It
was just a matter ofdeciding how to inplement it.
Soon I had an idea.
By now, I had accumilated e^^erience designing Web sites. It occurred to me that
I could create a place on the Internet for those who thought outside the norm to share
their thoughts with one another. I wanted to give people a chance to see: " Hey, there
are other people who are having problems like mine. They think the world sucks just
like I do. But they're advocating that we do soinething to change things, through
logic and nonviolent resistance. Hey — inaybe there's something to this."
I named the Web site Little Brother, a reference to George Orwell's 1984. In that
book, a government known as "Big Brother" controlled its citizens' every move. I
conpared that to our government, and chose " Little Brother" to describe a group of
concerned citizens, considerably smaller than Big Brother, who are watching the
goveminent the same way that the government is watching us.
For the Web address, I chose www.atlasisshrugging.com (now
www.atlasisshrugging.org }. The first essay I posted on the site presented thought as
the enen^ ofevil:
The arguments evil uses to win are not logic, but feelings. Not hope,
but despair. Not reality, but some sort of super-reality that none of us can
hope to achieve. But we, the good, use three simple things to prove our
points: Reality, truth, and life. We simply want the truth, and we only deal
in the truth. We have the chance to take back the world that is rightfully
Don 't let them win.
The original Web site was little inore than a message board for people interested
in philosophy. A person could post his or her thoughts about the world, and I or
soineone else on the board would respond. Then we would get into a discussion.
Sometimes we approached difficult topics, like whether or not the goveminent should
retaliate against the Taliban for the September 1 1, 2001 attacks. It didn't iratter what
your personal beliefe might be — you signed on to this site to see a million
I didn't pronwte the site at first. I inentioned it to a few ofn^ fi-iends, and asked
them to refer anyone who they thought would be interested. When forty diferent
people signed in within a week, I thought, " Shit. Maybe there's something to this."
For a few months, I left the site alone, to see how it would grow.
In the meantime. I coiTesponded with a guy who called himself Middle Brother — a
brilliant philosopher and a genius at Web page design. He liked the idea behind
Little Brother and offired his sewices to help revanp it. Together, we created new
forums and posted philosophical essays on the main page.
A wide variety of posters began arriving: a teenager nicknamed " DeadBoy," who
I'iinlcd against the injustice ofhigh school but also preached nonviolence. Miz," a
free-thinking girl in California. A guy from Iowa who nicknamed himself afler Hank
Reardon, a key character from Ayn I^d's Atlas Shrugged. The list kept growing.
People wanted to talk. They had a thirst for conversation, for thinking and debating.
We put up a questionnaire for new participants to fill in. I wanted to see where
people were coming fromand adjust our site's direction accordingly. After all, I don't
pretend to have all the answers to society's problems. I sinply wanted n^ site to be a
gathering place for those who were dissatisfied with the way things are. By talking
through our problems together — and realizing we weren't alone in the world — ^we
were starting something. Who knew where we might go fromthere?
Ever since it happened, Columbine has maintained a large presence on the
Internet. Multiple discussion boards, Web sites, and tribute pages still circulate
through cyberspace, and people trade infonnation all the tirre.
1 have mixed feelings about this. Many ofthc sites have good intentions. There
are memorials to the victims, posted so that people will never forget what happened.
Other sites are investigative sites, which support the contention that the police are
still holding back evidence. Those sites are good to see. They show me that, three
years later, people still care. They're still asking questions.
There are some other Columbine-related sites that are a little more . . . well . . .
disturbing. I've read conspiracy theories from people who believe Eric and Dylan
were part of a government mind-control plot, that they were brainwashed" to attack
Columbine. After all, these conspiracy buffi argue, the government wants guns out of
the people's hands, and what better way to do that than stage a " school shooting" so
that people get angry and demand gun control? I swear, Tmnot making this up.
Then there are the obsessive types. Girls will write about how they are " in love"
with Eric and Dylan. Some have gone so ^r as to write about wanting to " dig them
up and make love to their headless corpses." Others pretend to be students from
Colunibine. I entered a chat roomdiscussion with a guy who swore up and down that
his name was Brooks Brown, and that he'd graduated fromColuniine High School in
1999.1 was just like, " Um, I'mpretty sure you're not, dude . .
I don't pay much attention to these people. But the kids who intrigue me are the
ones who write about how they idolize Eric and Dylan, or call them heroes. They
write that Eric and Dylan made a " brave" choice by attacking their high school, and
that it sent a message to all the jocks and bullies of the world.
These people have a horribly skewed outlook on life — but at the same time, I
recognize what's happening to them. TTiey may not have started out any difeent from
you or me. But they've become so finstrated with the world that in their anger they
look upon two mass nurderers and actually see reason there.
Some of the posters on Little Brother asked me if I was worried that sooner or
later those types of messages would show up on rr^ board. The truth is, I hope that
people who feel that way will use the Web site. After all, why would people post
messages about how much they admire Eric and Dylan? Because they're going
through the same kind of shit Eric and Dylan did, and they feel so alone that they
think only Eric and Dylan would have understood. Yet by reading just a few of the
posts on our board, they can see that there are people who are having the same kinds
ofproblems they are, but are staying in touch with reality.
Maybe it will help themto reevaluate. Maybe it will help them realize that a lot of
people are screwed over by the system, but that doesn't give them a reason to become
like Eric and Dylan.
If even one of them starts to think twice about idolizing Eric and Dylan, or
imitating thern, then n^' site has served its purpose. The answer to feeling alienated
isn't to do what Eric and Dylan did. It isn't to give up. It isn't to kill.
It's to use your mind, and make things better.
where do we go?
I'M STANDING IN CLEMENT PARK, AT A MEMORIAL SERVICE FOR
Columbine's victims. It's April 20, 2002.
I can't believe it's been three years since it happened.
In one more month, the Coluntiine High School Class of 2002 will graduate.
These are the last kids who were there when Eric and Dylan took their revenge.
Starting next year, there will be all new students at Columbine — students who have
no firsthand memories ofhiding in their classrooms, or running away as bullets flew
overhead. They will have no memory ofseeing friends turn into mass murderers. Tliey
will have a clean slate.
The Columbine library is gone, demolished nearly two years ago. It's been
replaced by an atrium The place where Rachel Scott was killed is gone, covered up by
an entryway that links to the new library. The patch of asphalt where Danny
Rohrbough was killed is no longer there; that entire concrete stairway was pulled up
If you don't know what happened there, Columbine High School looks like any
other school in Arrerica.
Some students tell the newspapers now that there is no bullying at Columbine.
Others say the bullying is so bad that they're glad graduation is finally coming.
In today's newspaper, a teacher said that when she hears the claims about
bullying at Columbine, " I think sometimes we feel like the rape victim who's told her
skirt was too short and she shouldn't walk down the street at night."
Attenpts are already being made to rewrite history. Also in this morning's paper,
a Columbine teacher told the reporter, " [Harris and Klebold] scared me more than any
other kids in the building. They bullied more kids than they were bullied."
Now, walking with rr^ friends toward the memorial service, I see that same teacher
moving in the opposite direction. I glare at her as I walk past. She doesn't return n^
Some choose to deal with Coluni>ine through ignorance. But the memories ofthat
day can never be covered up fcr long. Nor can the repercussions.
Even though the cloud of Columbine will hang over us for the rest of our lives,
all ofus are trying to move on as best we can.
My brother graduated fromColurrbine High School last year He's thrown himself
into composing nrnsic, recording demo CDs for friends and spending entire nights
hunched over his synthesizer. Music has always been his passion, and I imagine it
always will be.
Trevor and 1 are still close friends. When memaries of Columbine really start to
weigh me down, he's the best confidant I have. He was there with me the whole way.
Most of the tin£, though, we just have a beer or play a good video garre, and
concentrate on happier times.
From time to time, 1 still see guys like Nick Baumgart, Zach Heckler, and Chris
Morris around town. Sometimes we nod. Sometimes we talk. But there's distance there
now. I imagine it will always be that way.
I moved out ofn^ parents' house a couple ofyears ago; now 1 live with friends in
an apartment across town. Like any &mily, my parents and 1 still have our arguments
and our rough times. But we've grown mxch closer since Colurrbine happened. In feet,
I got rry fether to go with me to Detroit and attend a Twiztid concert. Imagine n^' dad,
surrounded by juggalos with their feces painted and chains hanging off their
clothing ! It was a good time.
These past three years have been difficult. Even today, I'm still not over what
happened. I go through major mood swings and depressions, something I never had
to deal with before April 20. I do difeent things to cope with it. Sometimes I go
online, sometimes I play a video gairte, sone nights 1 wind up drinking. I'm doing
much better today than I was a lew years ago, but things can be hard sometimes.
Lots ofthings trigger painfiil memories — not just when I drive past the school or
hear Coluniine mentioned in a news report. There are little things, too. Maybe I'll
buy a new nulti-player conputer game, and as I start to play, suddenly I'll wonder
what Dylan would have thought of it. And then I'll get angry with him and Eric
again, for having done something so stupid and cruel. Wc had so inany good times,
and those UKmories are forever tainted now. 1 hate them for having betrayed me like
this. For having betrayed all ofus.
But things are getting better. I've realized something inportant over the past three
years: In spite ofthe hell that I lived through, I am still alive. I'm one ofthe lucky
As we stand there at the anniversary ceremony, the time reaches 11:19. Principal
DeAngelis is reading the names of the thirteen who died. As he reads each one, a
balloon is released into the air. Kyle Velasquez's parents are standing a few feet to the
left of me. When I hear his name, I see the balloon leave their hands and float away,
joining the others already disappearing into the distance.
Walking away from the ceremony, 1 glance over at the sidewalk, about a hundred
yards away, where 1 stood three years ago. Where 1 saw Eric pull in. For the past two
years, I marked this anniversary by standing in that spot.
I don't feel conpelled to do that this time.
One reason is because of what happened last year. That day, 1 was standing there,
just as I had the year before, smoking a cigarette and remembering. Tlien the police
pulled up and demanded n^ name. The public had been banned from entering
Colunfcine on the anniversary, and apparently the sidewalk out front was considered
part of school property. I tried to ej^lain that I was a fcrmer student, and was
mourning n^ friends, but they didn't care. They ordered me to leave.
Back then, 1 was so shocked by their actions that I conplied. But I'd had a year
since then to feme over the memory. I knew that if I went over there today and they
tried to make me leave again, n^ response would probably get me into a lot oftrouble.
Since harassment from the police wasn't how I wanted to spend this day, I decided
against going to " spot."
Besides, in some ways it was a healthy decision. Standing there with a cigarette,
remembering Eric's car pull in, helped me for the first couple ofyears after the tragedy.
But that moment doesn't define me. Who I amfromthis day forward is what defines me.
1 don't know where ii^ Web site will go. ll is sinply my personal attenpt to make
a di&rence. Yet that's rry point. If each ofus quits conplaining about the world — and
instead takes action in his or her unique way — who knows what could be
accomplished? I don't want to mark the deaths at Coluniine with a "moment of
silence" anymore. I want to mark it with moments of action. For me, those moments
include helping with Michael Moore's project, or working on n^' Web site, or telling
n^ story. I want people to learn from what happened here, and I want them to keep
When it conies to Colunfcine, some solutions are more obvious than others. We
have to crack down on all forms of bullying. Obviously, this means the kids on the
playground who beat up the outcasts, or the high schoolers who mock and harass the
kids wearing black and keeping to themselves. But we also have to look at teachers.
Teachers who only like the " good kids" and turn their backs on the rest are causing
untold pain and anger in those forgotten students. If students are given up on early,
then they learn to hate the systemand can no longer be rescued by it.
We have to reevaluate what we as a society are doing to our children. They, and
not our careers or our personal lives, must be our priority. When people choose to
become parents, they must make those children Iheir primary focus — ^not just say it,
but live it. Our kids need that kind ofguidance in today's world.
Humanity has not changed in several millennia, even if our technology has.
Because oftechnology, we can survive twice as long as we could a few hundred years
ago — ^yet most ofus acconplish only half as niich. We can find out any feet we want
through the Litemet — and many ofus want pom and hate.
As the writer Jhonen Vasquez said, whether in a loincloth or business suit, we're
Why do people wonder where Eric and Dylan came from?
I guess they ask because they never look at themselves.
We as a society allowed Eric and Dylan's creation. If we sit back and wait for
society to fixitself it will never happen. We will only see more ofthe same.
But ifwe as individuals choose to do something, then it's the first step toward
I saw n^ best friend fromgrade school become a mass murderer I saw n^ report to
the police get swept right under the rug. I was asked by own school never to come
back. I was called a killer on the street. I saw the femilies ofniirdered children lied to
forthree years, then saw our lawmakers tell themthere was no reason to investigate it.
I saw all ofthis, and I haven't given up.
Neither should the rest ofthe world. If there's one lesson to be learned from
Cokimbine, it's that we can't let things remain the way they are. We can't succuni) to
leeling powerless against the world.
Learn from the injustice of Columbine. Look for where parallels are happening
elsewhere. I guarantee, you won't have to look fer Then fight to change it. Don't wait
for everyone else. Don't let the world happen around you. Don't stay powerless.
Don't give up hope.
Rob MafrtH (left) and Brooks Brown
"Brooks. I like you now. Get out of
here. Go home. " Those were Eric
Harris's last words to Brooks
Brown before Harris and Dylan
Klebold walked into Columbine
High School and opened fire.
Brooln Brown gtadualHl 0NAPRIL20, 1999.OYLANKLEB0L0ANOERiCHARRIS,TW0SENIORS
rrom Columbine Hlflh d Columbine High School in LllWon. &)lorado, shot b death twelve stit-
School Ifl 1999. Most dents and one teacher and wounded many others, ft was the worst Single
recently. Brooks wortcwl act of murtJe< at a school in U.S. history.
and consulted on Michael Few people knew Dylan Ktehold or Erte Hards better than Srookf
Rob Merrill graduated
Irom the University ot
Iowa School ol Journalism
in 1998 and ounonttyvmrks
as a newspa^r writer in
later, at Columbine, Brown was pnvy to some ot Hams and Klebold's dark-
est fantasies and most troubling revelations. Atter the shootings. Brown
was even accused by Itw police of having been in on the massacre — sim-
ply because he had been tilends with ihe killers.
Now, tor the first tin»e. Brown, with joutMllsl Rob Meiritl, gets to tell
ttw full version of Uie story. He dwcribes the warning signs itHt were
missed or Ignored, and the evidence that was kept hidden from the public
alter the murders. He takes on ilnse wtio say th^t rock music or video
games caused Klebold and Herns to kilt their classmates, and explofes
what else H miglil have been that pushsd these two young men, trom sup-
possdly stable familMs, to hart>or such violent and apocalyptic drewns.
Shocking as well as Inspiratioeat and instghttut, No Easy Answm is
an aulhsnttc wake^p call for all the psychokjgtets, authorKies, parents.
arxJ law entoreemenl personnel wf» have attempted to understaryj Itw
murders at Columbine High School. As the title suggests, the book otters
no easy answers, but Inslead presents the urwarnished factt about grow-
ing up as an alienated teenager In America today.
/ T^UE Crime
Thble of Contents
What People Are Saying About no easy answers 2
Title Page 3
Part One: COLUMBINE 11
1 : " get out ofhere" 1 2
2: why? 22
4: video games 36
5 : freshmen at colun4>ine 44
6: troubles 54
7: broken glass 65
8: the web pages 72
9: suburban life 82
1 0: friendship renewed 88
1 1 : the calmbefi)re the storm 95
Part Two: AFTERMATH 104
1 2: the nighlmarebegins 105
14; no answers 139
15:1 stand accused 147
16; thefennlies 161
17; the videotapes 166
18; anniversary 177
19; the truth conies out 1 84
20; final hope 188
21; hollow victory 200
22; little brother 207
23; wheredo wego? 217